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Musical prodigy from South Hackney hopes to realise dreams after fundraiser helps him afford rare bassoon

PUBLISHED: 11:16 22 January 2019

Ashby Mayes. Picture: Picasa

Ashby Mayes. Picture: Picasa

Archant

A musical prodigy from South Hackney is a step closer to achieving his dream of playing with the London Symphony Orchestra after raising £40,000 for a rare bassoon.

Ashby Mayes, 19, has already played at the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, become the first bassoonist leader of the National Youth Wind Orchestra and toured around the world.

But now he has the money to buy a professional instrument – a Heckel bassoon – which are so hard to get hold of there is a 12-year waiting list and cost upwards of £30,000, second hand.

Ashby relies on scholarships, grants and the income from two part-time jobs to cover the cost of his training. So to buy the instrument he set up a fundraiser, which raised thousands. Now, thanks to a £5,000 donation by the Everest Lewis Golden Foundation, which helps youngsters achieve their dreams, he can finally afford one.

The final hurdle is finding one he likes, which is not that easy.

“I’ve just been to France and brought back an intrsument with me and it looks very promising,” he told the Gazette. “I’ve tried out all of the ones in the UK already.

“They have serial numbers which link up with the date they were made. I’ve been looking for something newer because I really like the feel of new instruments. The newest is the 16,000 series and the one I’ve got is a 13,000. It’s six years older than me.”

Ashby first got into music aged eight when his mother was given a piano. After attending St John of Jerusalem School he got a music scholarship at the Forest School, before boarding at Wells Cathedral in Somerset.

He continued: “I joined the Hackney Centre for Young Musicians aged nine and tried recorder and singing. After a few months I moved to the London Centre for Young Musicians. From what I remember and what my mum said I just liked the sound of the bassoon, which is the way it should be.”

There was one slight problem. “My hands were too small!” he added. “I had to start off with just two of the main joints of the bassoon, until my hands were big enough to play all four.”

Ashby is well on his way to realising his dream, and recently played with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. He added: “My ultimate goal is to have a seat with an orchestra as a principal bassoonist, it was very exciting to get a taste of what I’ll hopefully be doing in the future.”

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