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Archive for January 7th, 2009

NYOS – Perth

The National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, fresh from their New Year music school, performed their January concert at Perth Concert Hall (and the following night at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall).    Edinburgh’s loss is Perth’s gain – the Usher Hall is still being refurbished, so Perth is getting some relocated concerts.   I hope that a few of these stick to Perth even once the Usher Hall is up and running.

They were conducted by Christian Mandeal who was new to the orchestra, and who is something of an expert on the composer Enesco;    so it was with Enesco’s first Romanian Rhapsody that the concert began.     Quite a wild piece, with lots of folk tunes, and the players clearly enjoyed themselves.    

Then the mood changed for Poulenc’s Piano Concerto, which was much more subtle altogether.      Pianist Ian Fountain produced impressive sweeps across the keyboard, and gave a good performance, and the orchestra supported with maturity.

But the meat of the evening came in a performance of Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony, a mighty fierce dark work making huge demands of the young players, which they took ably in their stride.      

I did not know any of the music beforehand, so it was exciting to hear works I have not heard before.     The conductor was interesting to watch, as he had a slightly unusual technique of turning his back on most of the orchestra and urging on a particular section.    I did spy both of his feet off the ground in the Prokofiev!

I do have an issue with the orchestra uniform, which was jet black shirts and trousers for the boys, jet black skirts (or trousers) for the girls.    While many professional orchestras look like this, I felt that this lost the ‘look and feel’ of  a traditional Youth Orchestra, which was a shame, as being different from professional orchestras is one of any Youth Orchestra’s key strengths.         Time enough for the ‘all black’ look  in professional life.

The orchestra is 30 years old this spring – an impressive milestone to have reached, leaving a valuable and ongoing legacy of providing our best musicians in Scotland with a wonderful opportunity to play together and develop their careers.

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