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National Youth Orchestra

NYO's spring concert was titled Open up: Running Riot! I often see other orchestras' Southbank Centre concerts named something like this but it's usually the same old concert. This though was the real deal, wild and at times, completely bonkers. I loved it all (almost three hours duration in the end, thanks to a chatty tabla soloist, some improvisations and a grippingly mad encore) and ideally I'd like just about everyone to have heard it.

Led by the orchestra's extrovert percussion section, we were invited in by extended improvisation spots all around the hall, panning from solo to duet to section (I learned that the players featured, from youngest to oldest, had been chosen out of a hat.) Then two adept orchestral works introduced Mexican/Latin material (Gabriela Ortiz) and Tabla (Dinuk Wijeratne, performed by ebullient Sandeep Das.) A touchingly sad Ukrainian folk song from a small, young quintet followed, then the small matter of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and finally an endearingly crazy, but again quite substantial Latin-themed encore with fabulous choreography engineered by conductor Carlos Prieto, who seemed super-adept with everything in this programme.

This was the first time back for the full-force 160+ members of the NYO since the pandemic break. I try never to miss their concerts, which are unique in their style, and I think at least all student composers need to be there too. The sheer sound of woodwinds 7-deep in each section, 11 horns, 8 trumpets and trombones, 4 tubas and harps, and a string group of 90 players just has to be heard.





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