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Winter 2022 concert review

Sunday 27 November 2022

Nottingham Youth Orchestra Winter Concert, Albert Hall

Review by Grahame Whitehead 

The Albert Hall was abuzz with energy and anticipation in the middle of Sunday afternoon as the NYO’s Intermediate Orchestra prepared to take the stage.  Yet what was to come was just the climax of a meticulously choreographed day of final rehearsals and performances – the Training Orchestra had already presented their programme – which showcased the vitality and quality of youthful music-making fostered by the NYO. 

Chris Hoggarth conducted the Intermediate Orchestra in four energetic pieces admirably suited to these young musicians.  They took us first to two very different mythical worlds, starting with John Powell’s music to the 2010 animated film How to train your Dragon.  Here, there was no shortage of drama and excitement, with powerful ensemble playing and excellent work from the brass and percussion sections, but there was also space for gentler moods.  In a different idiom, Debussy’s La Cathédrale Engloutie then brought to life another legendary world, the players painting a finely controlled  impression of the ancient cathedral mysteriously arising from the water, only to return beneath the waves.

Delius’s La Calinda was exotic and outgoing with its catchy main tune, and the players responded well to the dynamic changes of the piece.  Last came Saint-Saëns’ Bacchanale, where the Orchestra used a range of colours to excellent effect to create a gripping sense of the music’s irresistible pull.  

Then it was the turn of the Senior Orchestra, under the baton of Alex Robinson.  Their playing was superb, showing maturity and control, and the three pieces demonstrated how wide their range is.  Cimarosa’s operatic intermezzo Il Maestro di Cappella revealed the 18th-century Italian composer in playfully ironic mood as the self-important maestro, brought to life with theatrical aplomb by baritone Jordan Harding-Pointon, attempts to boss sections of his orchestra about – the rehearsal from hell! 

Next came a very different sound-world, that of Copland’s orchestral suite from his ballet Appalachian Spring.  The playing had impressive control and clarity across the range of textures, and the world of the couple at the centre of the story was summoned up with intimate warmth.  Bizet’s L’Arlésienne Suite, with its extrovert, rousing tunes, brought proceedings to a fitting end.

A message for the Training Orchestra from conductor Dave Leeder...

What a great Winter Concert 2022 performance!  I was so pleased. Every section excelled.  The string section sounded really mature with good balance between the four groups and each adding their own dimension to the ensemble passages.

The woodwind players successfully added their colour to the orchestra with solo lines being played with confidence and accuracy. The brass section powered through, rising to the occasion and playing better than I’ve heard them before.  And the percussion was there safely driving us along with some great rhythmic playing.   Well done and thanks to all of you for your efforts on Sunday and for making Thursday evenings so enjoyable.

Thanks as ever to the tutors for their hard work and dedication to have made this so successful and for their support every week.

An update coming soon, very soon.