Nottingham Youth Orchestra – Spring Concert 2023

Senior Orchestra


Alex Robinson


  • 1. Les Animaux Modèles
    — Francis Poulenc
  • 2. Symphony No. 3 The Organ Symphony
    — Camille Saint-Saëns

Programme notes

Les Animaux Modèles

i. Petit Jour (Dawn)
ii. Le lion amoureux (The Lion in Love)
iii. L’homme entre deux âges et ses deux mâitresses (The Man with two Mistresses)
iv. La mort et le bûcheron (Death and the Woodcutter)
v. Les Deux Coqs (The Battle of the two Roosters)
vi. Le repas de midi (Lunchtime)

Les Animaux Modèles is a ballet by Francis Poulenc based on Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables. It was written during the German occupation of France in the Second World War between 1940 and 1942. The suite, performed in today’s concert, contains extracts from the ballet.

Poulenc, an extraordinarily talented pianist,  first completed the piano score in 1941 before arranging it for full orchestra between late 1941-1942. He also wrote his own scenario for the ballet. Rather than depicting the animals as just that, animals, he renders them human, playing off human-animal metaphors commonly used to describe certain types of people - think Lounge Lizard or Fat Cat. Poulenc created his own; In his words “The Grasshopper has become an ageing ballerina, the ant an old provincial housemaid, the amorous lion a womaniser, Death an elegant woman - a kind of duchess with a mask”. Musical commentators at the time regarded Les Animaux Modèles as the first piece Poulenc wrote in a style completely his own, having fully assimilated his prior influences. This was an altogether new style of music. Poulenc, ever a joker, makes use of some surprisingly simple material (even Mozart or Haydn might have regarded it as too trivial), with very straightforward, direct harmonies. But suddenly the music becomes enormous, complex and harmonically daring, dressed in the finery of deliciously elaborate orchestration. In short, there’s never a dull moment.

Poulenc dedicated the work to his childhood friend Raymonde Linoissier who died in 1930.

Symphony No. 3 The Organ Symphony

The Binns Organ, Albert Hall, Nottingham

i. Adagio – Allegro moderato – Poco adagio
ii. Allegro moderato – Presto – Maestoso – Allegro

No French composer has ever enjoyed more international esteem with his contemporaries than Camille Saint-Saëns. Very prolific, his output includes three symphonies, two ’cello concertos, three violin concertos and five piano concertos. He also wrote many operas, of which Samson and Delilah is still often performed. He travelled widely in Europe, visiting London several times, and also visiting Russia, North Africa, the USA, and even South America, which he visited at the age of 81! He was a pianist and organist himself, being the soloist in the first performances of his first and third piano concertos, and was organist at the church of the Madeleine in Paris for almost 20 years.

Most of his work is little played now, being a little too glib (Victorian?) for modern taste. His works are all melodic, pleasant to listen to and richly orchestrated, but rarely reaching any great emotional depths. Curiously, his two works most often performed now – this symphony and the Carnival of the Animals – were both written in the same year: 1886.

The third symphony was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Society, and first performed in London on 19th May 1886 under the composer’s direction. The nickname comes from the prominent part for the organ, though even more unusual is the piano part requiring two players. It is cast in two movements, though since each movement is a running together of two sections, it can be seen as a normal four movement symphony with each pair of movements linked. After a short slow introduction, the allegro presents two themes; the first is whispered on violins at once, the second is a more flowing tune derived from the slow introduction. Both themes are developed, separately and together, in the body of the movement, before the tempo unwinds and we move, with the organ now, into the adagio. This calm and peaceful movement is supported by the organ; the main theme glows lovingly, like sunlight through deep stained glass.

The second movement starts vigorously, like a symphonic scherzo and trio. After a fast allegro, the presto section is faster still. Both allegro and presto are repeated, but the presto repeat is cut short, the tempo again relaxes… and a massive C major on the organ announces the finale proper. The splendid theme is derived from the first movement, wholly transformed, and is presented on organ and strings in turn – notice the decoration by the piano duet. After development, including an energetic fugal section, the music leads inexorably to its triumphant conclusion. “I have given everything that I had to give;” declared Saint-Saëns “what I have done here I shall never do again.”

Reproduced with the permission of Peter Brien and the Nottingham Philharmonic Orchestra.

George Balfour

George Balfour - Organist

George is currently the organ scholar at Southwell Minster.  He started learning the organ at the age of 10 whilst at St John’s College School, Cambridge where he was head chorister in the College Choir. He continued his studies with Christopher Stokes at Chetham’s School of Music where he was winner of the senior organ prize and was appointed the Frederick Bridge Organ Scholar at Manchester Cathedral.  He has performed in St John’s College Chapel, Durham and Ely Cathedrals and in recitals in St Lawrence Jewry, London and OLEM, Cambridge.   Later this year, he will start his music undergraduate studies at Oxford University and take up the Christopher Tatton Organ Scholarship at Christ Church Cathedral.  George is also a prize winning pianist and French horn player.


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Violin 1
Lingde Yang *
Esther Morris
Josiah Hardy
Rowan Hollis 
Theo Flavin
Anna Thornton
Esme Ainsley
Maisie Pollard
Jamie Phillippe
Collin Wong

Violin 2
Max Davies
Julian Lo 
Nayla Ruiz Salfity 
Louis Zhu 
Annabel Skinner
Cheuk-yiu Ng 
Sophie Mattern 
Iman Muhammad

Kylie Szeto   

Oliver Flavin 
Emily Turner 
Stephen Frith
Andrew Hines 
Elisa Empringham 
Anais Jauzelon 

Double Bass
George Allwood 
Alex Neave

Roisin Hickey
Tsz Yam Pai

Amelie Sainsbury
Sophie Wood
Eleanor Petts
Kesia Bonicel
Millie Crawford

Eleanor Petts

Oliver Brown 
Hannah Street 

Cor Anglais
Nicola Popplewell

Hoi Yu Clarice
Izzy Lilley  

Bass Clarinet
Eloïse Chita

Oliver Green
Andres Yauri

Anthony Cook
Ciaran McIntosh
Eleanor Boniface 
Jacob Hunt  

Josie Sleigh 
Aidan Fyfe  
Matthew Harris
Sam Jones  
Oliver Jamieson 

Tom Herbert
James Bowden  

Nathan Green 

Nathan Duffy 

Patryk Frac


Tutor Thanks

Clare Bhabra - 1st Violin
Claire Seedhouse - 2nd Violin
Paul Skinner - Cello
Matt Barks - Double Bass
Roisin Hickey - Harp
Wendy McDonald - Woodwind
Ian Taylor - Brass
Robert Parker - French Horn
Jay Robinson - Percussion

NYO would like to thank the Danny Morris Memorial Trust Fund for their support.

Peter Horril Scholarship
We are very grateful to the Horril family for their donation in memory of Peter Horril. Peter was a local schoolmaster and music lover.

Friends of NYO
Prof & Mrs D F Brailsford
Mr & Mrs A Foster
Mr R Hammond
Mr & Mrs Hands
Professor S & Mrs H Hodkinson
Mrs F Keetley
Mrs Emily Kenefeck
Mr & Mrs A MacDiarmid
Mrs Elisabeth Mills
Mr & Mrs R Nicolle
Mr & Mrs A C Powell
Prof & Dr Polnay
Mr & Mrs K Pryer
Mr & Mrs R Skinner
Drs A & M D Smith
Mr H & Mrs E Watkinson
Mrs Witcombe

French Horn Chair - In memory of Don and Betty Adamson
Double Bass Chair - In memory of Corin Long and Pam Thomas