Following on from Bassoonist Adrian Dence's inspiring reflections on his time in the National Youth Orchestra, we proudly introduce our wonderful Timpanist and Percussionist, Cynthia Mason, who was interviewed by leader Alan Ford.
"There’s a wonderful symmetry with Adrian’s story in that Cynthia Mason, our New Forest Orchestra Percussionist and Timpanist, played in the National Youth Orchestra at the same time as Adrian. At that time her instruments were Viola and Piano. She came from West Yorkshire and attended Skipton High School. A contemporary of hers at the school was Elizabeth Harwood who went on to have a stellar career as a Soprano, singing at the Salzburg Festival, LA Scala and the Metropolitan Opera, before sadly dying at a young age from cancer.
Cynthia joined the National Youth Orchestra playing viola. Her memory of Ruth Railton is that she “was like a God. We would have put our cloaks on the floor for her to walk on, like Sir Walter Raleigh.”
Cynthia went on to the Royal College of music to study Viola (with the legendary Cecil Aronowitz) and Piano. Contemporaries were the likes of the flautist James Galway. Whilst at the RCM it emerged that there was a need for someone to step up and play percussion. So she did, being the first to perform a Concerto for a Percussion instrument at their concerts as well as participating in numerous performances.
Cynthia went on to play Timpani and Percussion professionally with a number of professional orchestras – including BBC Symphony, BBC Concert, Royal Opera House, Royal Ballet and Ballet Rambert, for a number of years.
Cynthia later trained as a Physiotherapist, working with children with multiple disabilities. After moving to the New Forest in 1989, Cynthia became Head of Percussion for Dorset Schools Music service, a role she performed for eighteen years.
Despite being in her eighties, Cynthia has not lost her keyboard skills. She has continued to help innumerable local children, accompanying them in their Grade Exams.
There is a rather nice link in that Cynthia was able to give Adrian (Bassoonist) some National Youth Orchestra programmes she has kept for all of these years, featuring both their names!"