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Sing Zimbabwe/Tumbuka dance their hearts out at the Assembly
Sing Zimbabwe/Tumbuka dance their hearts out at the Assembly.
Photo copyright maxblinkhorn@hotmail.com

(F) 13 out of 49
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme



National Youth String Orchestra of Scotland (page 98)
Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series
(page 97)

Drams full glass full glass full glass
Music Matyas Seiber: Besardo Suite No. 2 for string orchestra; John Rutter: Suite for strings; Ralph Vaughan Williams: Concerto Grosso for string orchestra
Performers National Youth String Orchestra of Scotland, Julian Clayton (Conductor)
Date 13 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100)
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

Julian Clayton started the evening with an apology. The music for the Karlowicz Serenade for Strings that had been sent from Poland was all wrong and so the orchestra was not able to play it. The programme was thus abbreviated to the music listed above. He pointed out that the two composers represented in the first half of the programme were each connected with anniversaries this year. This was the centenary of the birth of Matyas Seiber and the 60th anniversary of the birth of John Rutter.

In his introduction to the Besardo Suite No. 2, Julian told us that Seiber was a Hungarian composer who had come to England in the 1930s. Seiber had discovered some lute music by a 17th century French lutenist, Jean Phillipe Besard, written in lute notation, and had transcribed tit and formed two suites for string orchestra, the second of which was being played tonight. This basically took the form of a set of dances, very typical of the 17th century suite. The music had a 20th century feel about it and was very reminiscent of Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite. The six individual movements were Intrada; Guillemette - Chorea Rustica; Galliarda Dolorata; Branle Commun; Madrigale Courant de Guerre - Canaries.

The second item in the programme was the Rutter Suite for Strings. John Rutter is a very well-known composer and arranger, probably better known for his choral arrangements than his orchestral works. This suite was based on four English folk songs A-roving; I have a bonnet trimmed with blue; O Waly Waly and Dashing away (with a smoothing iron). Although the titles may not be too familiar, they are all very well known tunes, so it made it relatively easy to identify what was going on.

The first half only lasted 30 minutes and was followed by a 25-minute interval. The final work, the Vaughan Williams Concerto Grosso for string orchestra, was written in 1950 for the English Rural Music Schools, and consisted of five movements, Intrada; Burlesca Ostinata; Sarabande; Scherzo; and March and Reprise.

String orchestras are notoriously difficult ensembles to get right, especially when the players are young. This difficulty was very obvious throughout the programme. The basic problems were playing in tune with each other; general intonation; and a very limited range of dynamics. As usual, this concert is a demonstration of what 5 days of residential tuition, coaching and practice can do for a group of young people. In general, the playing was technically adequate but lacked a sparkle. I don't think the music was too difficult and I am sure that the standard of the individual players was more than adequate. It is difficult, therefore, to put one's finger on what was the root cause. During the interval I overheard one of the young players speaking to relatives and saying that she did not like the Vaughan Williams. Maybe that was the problem, they did not like the music. I would be very surprised if that was true of the Rutter.

The orchestra handled the varying rhythmic and harmonic changes in all the works very well and there were bright spots. For example, there were nice variations in tone and dynamics in the Branle Commun, a lively country dance of the Seiber; a very well played violin solo part in the O Waly Waly movement of the Rutter, played by the Leader, Beverley Simpson; and also in the Rutter, the very nice ensemble treatment of the contrapuntal last movement. The Concerto Grosso was a disappointment. This is a 17th/18th century form that contrasts a small group of players with the whole orchestra. Usually the small group is only three or four players, but it was difficult to determine how small the group was here. It seemed to be about half the orchestra! As a result, there was no obvious contrast and although the overall sound was quite good, the total effect was disappointing. On the whole, it was a rather disappointing evening.

I cannot finish without mentioning the new conductor, Julian Clayton. After many years being conducted by Jimmy Durrant, the orchestra had a new conductor. Julian is a young, but experienced conductor, with his early years being spent playing the violin. He seems to have taken over the reins of both the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland as well as the NYSOS. He was an excellent leader, with a clear beat and directions.

© Charlie Napier 13 August 2005.

Series continues August 16, 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue


   

The Frog Prince (Page 120)

Drams None
Company Students from Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
Music Eric Schorr
Book and Lyrics Charles Leipart
Directed by Andrew Panton
Dates 15 August 2005
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152)
Address 41 George IV Bridge
Reviewer : Jonas Green

The Frog Prince

I first encountered RSAMD on the Fringe last year, doing offbeat new musicals at a tiny venue with immense talent, enthusiasm and polish. This year they have a better venue to show off the same qualities, with more scope for inventive production.

The Frog Prince is a daft but engaging reworking of the traditional fairytale by off-Broadway experts Charles Leipart and Eric Schorr. The RSAMD show here is apparently a cut-down version, but 80 busy minutes feels about the right length for the piece. There is a sly running joke in the background which mocks the inscrutable mantras of Buddhist/Taoist wisdom. By the end this becomes entertainingly relevant to the show's aspirational message. And that is something on the lines of: you can become whatever you want to be. On the way they manage to work in tap-dancing in flippers and a Berlin-style cabaret takeoff among other gems.

Many of these eleven performers are bound for the professional musical stage. All their performances are highly competent but the ensemble work is the most impressive. Among the strong cast, Morgan Carberry as scheming sister to the princess heroine stands out, as knowing just how far to go over the top. Director Andrew Panton does a great deal with a few props and limited space.

© Jonas Green. 15th August 2005 Published on www.edinburghguide.com See also www.rsamd.ac.uk

Run Performances on various dates until 28th August


   

East Renfrewshire Senior Jazz Big Band & Concert Band (Page 97)
Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series
(page 97)

Drams full glass
Music See the review
Performers East Renfrewshire Senior Jazz Big Band & Concert Band: Kevin Price (Conductor - Concert Band); Donald Finlayson (Director - Senior Big Jazz Band)
Date 16 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100)
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

This was the first lunchtime concert of this year's FBYO and it was given by pupils from East Renfrewshire Schools, which just that morning had been intimated in the press as being the best local authority education system in Scotland. These young players certainly showed themselves to be living up to that reputation.

The Concert Band, under the direction of their vary able conductor, Kevin Price, took the stage first
The band consisted of 39 players playing all the wind instruments normally found in an orchestra, with percussion, bass guitar and keyboards in support. The opening item in the programme was King Across The Water, a piece based on the song, Hey Johnny Cope are Ye Wauken yet? It was written by a Fife trombonist Bruce Fraser, and very effective it was. The opening very loud drum beats did overshadow the rest of the Band but the slower and softer middle section was very well done. This was followed by the slow movement, Ballade, from the Suite Vibes by another trombonist, Adrian Drover. This was scored for solo vibraphone and band, the solo part being played by Cairistiona Swainson. This was a very beautiful piece played very well by the soloist.

Jane Bocock's Into the Light followed. This was a very evocative piece which could well have done as a film score to accompany a sunrise scene followed by the sun rising high in the sky. An arrangement of the J S Bach Chorale Wachet Auf came next. The clarinets played the accompaniment and the chorale tune was in the trombones and oboes - a very effective arrangement. The band completed its part of the programme by playing a selection of Ennio Moricone's music from his scores he wrote for the "spaghetti westerns". Most of the music was very familiar and very well played, which made a very satisfying end to the Band's programme.

The second part of the programme was given by 20 of the musicians who had played in the Concert Band and who formed the Senior Jazz Big Band, consisting of 8 saxophones (5 alto, 2 tenor, 1 baritone), 5 trumpets, 4 trombones with drums, bass guitar and keyboard in support. This group was directed by the very lively and energetic Donald Finlayson. The programme started with a very up-beat version of the James Brown composition I Feel Good. This was followed by Doxy (Sonny Rollins, arr. Taylor), again an up-beat number, and then the beautiful Earl Hagen composition, Harlem Nocturne. The lead in this was taken by two alto sax players, and very effective rendering was given. The 1970s number Birdland (by Zawinal) followed. This is a mixture of swing with the more modern jazz development of be-pop and rock and roll. This was a good swinging interpretation. Then followed MacArthur Park, a number written by Jimmy Webb and arranged by Elliot Murray. This got off to a slightly rocky start but it improved as it went on.

The Band completed its programme with a very upbeat number that the Director failed to introduce, except to say it was another 1970s number. I suspect that the Band, and the Director, expected to play an encore, but I am sorry to say that the audience was so small, that it could not sustain the applause for long enough for the Director to get back on stage. It was a pity, because I would very much like to have heard something else.

Both Bands gave excellent performances that were a credit both to the young players themselves and also to their tutors, coaches and Directors.

© Charlie Napier, 16 August 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com

Series continues August 17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue

   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Malden Young Strings' Evening Concert (Page 98)

Drams full glass
Music Charles Wesley: Andantino & Tempo di menuetto; Geoffrey Keating: Habañera & Charleston; Correlli Sinfonia in D minor; J S Bach Bourée; Gustav Holst: Brook Green Suite; Leslie Searle: Tango & Evening Shadows; Telemann: Viola concerto; Mozart: Adagio & Fugue; Borodin: Nocturne; James D'Angelo: March of the Jesters; Cavalli: Canzona; Sibelius: Andante festivo
Performers Alexa Beattie (viola); Malden Young Strings, George Steven (Director)
Date 17 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

The Malden Young Strings is an independent group of young musicians from the Kingston-upon-Thames area who are not connected with any local education authority. The Director, George Steven was associated with the founding of this Festival and has served on the Committee of the National Association of Youth Orchestras.

After many visits to Finland, George perceived that there was a need for pre-instrumental training of young would-be players to develop the senses of rhythm and pitch. The organisation believes that early work with young children should focus on training of the inner ear, using the Tonic Sol-Fa methodology. If the performance given by these young players this evening can be taken as evidence, then there is no doubt that this method works. It has been a very long time since I heard a youth string group actually play in tune and this group certainly did this evening. Perhaps other string teachers should think about using George's methods.

The players played in three separate groups, each containing eight or nine players, effectively double quartets. The first group was the most inexperienced, but even they managed to play in tune (almost all the time), and without a Director or Conductor! They opened the programme with two pieces by Charles Wesley, the brother of Samuel Wesley, the founder of Methodism, which was very suitable considering where we were and followed that with something completely different the Keating Habañera and Charlestonn. The discipline of this young group was exemplary and although there were hints now and again of intonation problems, overall it was a very good performance but perhaps lacking a little in expression.

A second group then took the stage to play the next four items on the programme, the Correlli, the Bach, the Holst and the Searle. This music covered a period of about 300 years, from the mid 17th century to the mid 20th century, but the group managed to handle the different demands of the music extremely well, and again without a Conductor. This was a slightly older group than the first one and was obviously a bit more experienced. The tuning was excellent, and the group played with more expression than the first group, however, the beginnings of the Correlli and the Bach were a little bit scrappy, but things improved. An excellent overall performance.

After an interval, the third group took the stage. Again this was a double quartet, but with the addition of a double bass for the Mozart and the D'Angelo. This was the "advanced" group and this was soon evident. Once again the group played without a Conductor and once again the discipline in all matters was exemplary. The second half opened with the Telemann Viola Concerto, the solo part being played by a member of the viola section, Alexa Beattie. She played the part from memory and actually led the group. This was an excellent rendition, full of feeling and expression. The Mozart was a very good group effort, with good confident playing. The only criticism I had was that towards the end of the first subject of the fugue, all the players seemed to go very slightly awry - a truly minor criticism.

The group reduced to a quartet for the Borodin. This was the slow movement from his second String Quartet, which is so well known. This was a beautiful performance, and the rather small audience certainly showed their appreciation. The rest of the group returned and played the piece specially written for the Malden Young Strings by James D'Angelo. This was a lively, interesting piece with some interesting percussive effects by the violinists. Overall, this was an excellent performance by this group.

All the players took the stage under the direction of George Steven to play the 17th century Cavalli piece and, to celebrate the connections with Finland, the Sibelius Andante festivo. There is usually something in these youth concerts that catches one's attention, and it was this Sibelius piece this time. I had never heard it before and it was a beautiful lyrical piece with touches of Sibelius harmonies and progressions that gave it that typical Finnish flavour.

The whole group was excellent and one could not fault anything about its performance. This was definitely a performance not to miss, and I despair of the Edinburgh audiences who don't turn out to support these young musicians. They just don't know what they are missing.

© Charlie Napier 17 August 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com

Series continues August 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue.


   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (Page 97)

Drams full glass full glass
Music ee the review
Performers Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra. Richard Michael (Director), John Gourlay (Director FYJO2)
Date 19 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

The overall Director of the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra (FYJO), Richard Michael, introduced this lunchtime concert in the FBYO series. Richard is a teacher and a church organist. He made a strong point that all the solos played by the members of the orchestra during today's performance were improvised by the players themselves. Richard pointed out the importance of being able to improvise. From the first day a young person joined the orchestra, he/she had to improvise, which is very important if the person goes on to make a career playing jazz.

The concert actually started with the younger section of the orchestra (FYJO2), which was directed by John Gourlay, playing a piece by Abdullah Ibrahim called simply Mandela, a tribute to the great African statesman. This was a nice swinging introduction from the orchestra which was fairly traditional in format but with some nice touches of African rhythm and harmony. Various members of the orchestra played solos, but their inexperience did show a bit; a brave attempt nevertheless. FYJO2 was made up of 3 clarinets, 2 trumpets, 3 saxophones, 2 violins, 1 flute, and a rhythm section made up of drums, piano, bass guitar and rhythm guitar. Another of Richard's assistants, Carlo Madden, gave support to the trumpet section.

The second item was a Charlie Parker number, My little suede shoes. There were solos from trumpet, clarinet, piano and guitar. This was an acceptable performance but again, the inexperience did show in the solos.

FYJO1, the senior orchestra, then took the stage. This consisted of 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 4 saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone), with piano, drums, rhythm percussion, and 3 guitars, and was led by Richard Michael. They started with a Bobby Timmins number, Dat dere followed by Groove Maker (Jimi Hendrix). They were very good performances, with good ensemble playing, good rhythm, and quite inventive solos.

Richard had taken the FYJO to play in Shetland and while there he was inspired, not only by the landscape but by the playing of local orchestra, to write a suite for the FYJO. This he called The Shetland suite, and here the orchestra played the opening movement, 'Simmer Mirr', which represented the shimmering of the light on a summer sea. This featured one of the violinists playing an electronically enhanced violin, but I have to say that the balance between the bass and the violin was not quite right, the bass being too loud. Apart from that, this was a very expressive piece and was played very well. This led in to an arrangement, by Richard, of a Shetland piece Tommy's tarbukas. (From the Internet, it seems that a "tarbuka" - or perhaps a "darbuka" -.is a metal drum used in Middle Eastern and African music.) This was an exciting, toe-tapping strathspey that featured alto sax, trumpet, guitar and piano. To my ears, the soloists seemed to be playing slightly out of tune.

FJYO1 and FJYO2 then came together and started the final section of the concert with Duke Ellington's Satin Doll, followed by another old favourite How High the Moon (Les Paul and Mary Ford). These were fairly standard arrangements with a solo trumpet being featured in the Ellington Number. They were very competently played.

John Gourlay came back to lead the combined orchestra in his own composition, Snowdrop, which was being given its first performance in Edinburgh. This really was a showpiece for the soprano sax player, who just happened to be John's daughter. This was a very fine expressive work, with very nice harmonies. The solo part was played extremely well and the accompaniment from the orchestra was very sensitively scored and performed, so as not to overwhelm the soloist.

Richard returned to lead the orchestra in the final number, a version of Louie Louie¸ probably the most recorded song in pop music history since it was written by Richard Berry in 1955. A college radio station in California once played it continuously for 67 hours without repeating a single recording. This was an excellent way to end a delightful and enjoyable concert.

© Charlie Napier, 22 August 2005.

Series continues August 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue

   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Cheshire Youth Choir (Page 97)

Drams
Music See the review
Performers Cheshire Youth Choir, Shirley Court (Director), John Laird (Accompanist)
Date 25 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

"The Cheshire Youth Choir is a dynamic group of young singers aged 13 to 19 from schools and colleges throughout Cheshire and directed by a nationally renowned trainer of young choirs, Shirley Court. Cheshire Youth Choir regularly enthrals audiences with exciting performances in concerts throughout Cheshire and further afield. Choir members have a tremendous enthusiasm for singing and commitment to attending rehearsals and concerts."

These were the words of the introduction in the programme issued for this lunchtime concert in the FBYO series. I could not have put it better myself, so why try.

Shirley Court, Director Cheshire Youth Choir

This was truly an exciting performance by 38 young musicians, a third of whom were boys. The presentation was captivating, both in the way the choir was so attentive to the instructions of the Director and in the way they incorporated "actions" to provide emphasis and interest to the songs. Their diction was excellent as was their balance and dynamics. The thing that was very evident this afternoon was that every member of the choir was enjoying him/herself. They really put their hearts and souls into the music and they did it with smiles on their faces, something you don't see very often in youth music groups.

They sang the complete programme from memory, and apart from one very small hiccup from a soloist, who shall remain anonymous, they were word and note perfect. The music chosen for this programme was very varied, but was universally good, each in its own way. It would get boring to repeat superlatives as I describe each piece, so let it suffice to say that this was a group that I would very happily listen to again and again. I do hope they come back next year.

The programme opened with three sacred pieces: a traditional Spiritual, Down by the riverside, arranged by a Welshman Gwyn Arch; The Lord's Prayer from the African Sanctus by David Fanshaw; a modern Spiritual, I'm Going up a yonder, by a present day African-American gospel singer, Walter Hawkins and arranged by M Sirvatka. Becky Sharp sang a delightful solo in the last item.

Simon Morrell, Robert Furnival, Marcus Williams and Jay Stannard - The Cheshire Youth Barbershop Quartet - then gave us a very amusing couple of numbers in traditional barbershop style, complete with suitable actions, My Eveline and When Pa was a little boy like me.

This was followed by three rather sentimental, but beautiful, items from the full choir: Danny Boy, arranged by the Oxford trained composer, arranger and jazz double bass player Alexander L'Estrange; Idle days of summer, a song of unrequited love written in 1700 by William Hopkin, a Welsh Bard, and arranged by Donald Hughes; Fields of gold by Gordon Matthew Sumner (better know as the pop singer Sting) and arranged by Emmerson. Robert Furnival was the soloist in Idle days of summer and Nicola Hawbrigg and Marcus Williams were the soloists in Fields of gold.

John Casson and Jay Stannard then gave us a duet on two guitars in the form of a very competent improvisation based on a chord sequence. This was followed by a vocal duet from Rose Mitchell and Robert Furnival, The spider and the fly, written by Mary Howitt in 1821 and set to music by Seymore Smith. Rose has a most beautiful voice and I hope that she might go further.

The programme finished with three more choral items with a more modern flavour: The Ascot gavotte from the show My Fair Lady by Lerner and Loewe; a medley of Cole Porter songs (Another opening, another show; Just one of those things; You d something to me; So in love with you am I; Who wants to be a millionaire; with a reprise of the first song) all arranged by the English arranger Alan Simmons; Like an eagle, a beautiful evocative piece by the prolific American composer and arranger Carl Strommen.

I cannot finish without paying tribute to the Accompanist, John Laird, who played sensitively throughout. Haste ye back!

© Charlie Napier, 25 August 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com
See also Shirley Court

Series continues August 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue


   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Halle Youth Orchestra (Page 98)

Drams full glass
Music Leonard Bernstein: On the town- Three dance episodes; James MacMillan: The confession of Isobel Gowdie; Antonin Dvorák, Symphony No.6 in D major
Performers
Halle Youth Orchestra, James Burton (Conductor)
Date 25 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Bruce Haughan

© Hallé Youth Orchestra 2005
Initial disappointment that the programme did not, after all, include Brahms' Academic Festival Overture as the Fringe Programme had promised, was tempered by the realisation that this was an ambitious and heavyweight programme for a young orchestra, and that the Brahms would have over-egged the pudding. As it was, the Halle Youth Orchestra under its conductor James Burton, turned in an excellent performance. It was a real pity that the audience, although very enthusiastic, was not larger, and seemed to be made up almost entirely of relatives and friends of the players. This performance deserved a wider audience and would have been not out of place in the Usher Hall up the road.

Bernstein wrote the 'Three dance episodes' for the original show On the Town, which was a smash hit on Broadway in 1944; but like much of the original score they were excluded from the 1977 film version. This is real American music as perceived by many Americans themselves as well as by the rest of the world and was an ideal opener for this programme. The first episode, 'The great lover' is full of brassy brashness and hot wind, and the orchestra seized on it with enthusiasm. The strings came to the fore in the blues style of 'Lonely town', and the woodwind became thoughtful and almost melancholy in their treatment of this contrasting movement. The clarinets returned to a more strident tone in 'Times Square 1944' a splendid tone poem of the bustle of traffic and pedestrians in one of the most famous squares in the world.

Hallé Youth Orchestra Strings
The confession of Isobel Gowdie
is, as James MacMillan himself puts it, an exorcism of an unquiet spirit and a requiem for an innocent woman executed for witchcraft in Aberdeenshire in 1662. It is an exacting piece to play, but must be a tremendous experience for everyone on the platform. The orchestra handled it beautifully, in a very menacingly controlled fashion, all the way, each episode emerging unbroken from the one before, until the spirit of Isobel Gowdie, freed from the earthly torments that forced her untrue but fatal confession, burst free into the sunlight with a flash that recalled the Unveiling of the Presence in Elgar's Gerontius. The percussion was especially powerful in the early restraint that pointed up aspects of the agony before giving its all to the final exultation. The orchestra responded to Burton's masterful control of events in a performance that was breathtaking and moving together. There was only one word for it at the end: WOW!

Hallé Youth Orchestra Brass
I do not normally like or approve of intervals, but one after that was essential (I couldn't help recalling the G. P. [= General Pause] in The Maestro by Gerard Hoffnung). Dvorák's Sixth Symphony ought to have come as an anticlimax after Isobel Gowdie, but it didn't. The brass boisterously opened the first movement with confidence, eventually giving way to the strings (fewer in number than might have been wished) that strode effortlessly through it with some very sweet playing by the flutes in their solo. There were occasional wobbles from the horns before the rather unexpected and sudden conclusion. The second movement produced echoes of Brahms (who was one of Dvorák's mentors), and a reminder that both he and Dvorák were superb melodists. Almost without pause the third movement followed on from the second, the woodwind producing a stridency that mellowed into sweetness as the movement progressed. The fourth movement began too loud and, for a moment, seemed to have nowhere to go, but quietened down and, in spite of a small lack of togetherness in the strings, gathered momentum and joined up with the brass for the triumphant finale. Modified wow!

The father of one of the players admitted that fewer strings than had been hoped had played this performance, but a number of members were prevented from taking part by holidays. He told me that the orchestra's winter concerts in the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester were really something to hear. Even allowing for the bias of parental pride, on the showing of this performance I do not doubt him.

This was the Halle Youth Orchestra's first visit to the FBYO (it had given this programme the previous evening at the RSAMD in Glasgow), and was a triumph. Haste ye back!

© Bruce Haughan. 27 August 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com See also www.halle.co.uk
© All images Aileen Gray

Series continues August 26, 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue.

   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Shropshire Youth Orchestra (Page 99)

Drams full glass
Music Mozart: Impresario-Overture ; Arnold: Little suite for orchestra No.2; Vivaldi: Four seasons-Autumn and Winter; Walton: Richard III-A Shakespeare suite; Warlock: Capriol suite; Arnold: Trevelyan Suite for wind ensemble; Mendelssohn: Symphony No.5 (Abridged); Bizet: Carmen-Suite No.1
Performers David Fairbank (violin); Shropshire Youth Orchestra, John Fairbank and Robert Wysome (Directors),
Date 26 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

The Shropshire Youth Orchestra only comes to the FBYO every two years and it is always a pleasure to listen to it. I am delighted to say that that it sounded even better than I remembered it in 2003. The first half of the programme was conducted by John Fairbank.

The programme started with a rarely-heard Mozart overture; a very grand overture to a one-act comic opera that Mozart wrote around the same time as he was composing The marriage of Figaro. The music is much grander than one would expect from such a light work, but under the circumstances (he was writing for the Austrian Emperor who had decided to hold a competition between Mozart and another composer) perhaps he was trying to impress.

This was a very impressive start to the programme, with expression, intonation and balance working out very well. This was followed by Malcolm Arnold's Little suite for orchestra No.2, which consisted of three movements, Overture, Ballad and Dance. The first movement had a very strong brass episode, which tended to overwhelm the strings and was very reminiscent of his music for the film Henry V. The other two movements were much better balanced and were very pleasant to listen to.

This was followed by two sections of Vivaldi's Four Seasons' Autumn and Winter. The solo violin part was played by David Fairbank, the son of the conductor. David was previously the leader of this orchestra. These are really concertos for solo violin with string orchestra accompaniment. David played the solo parts very expertly and sensitively, and the orchestral accompaniment was very supportive and did not intrude on the solo part. I think that the soloist could have allowed himself to be a little stronger, but that is a minor criticism of a very fine performance.

After the interval, Robert Wysome took over the baton and started the second half with a rendering of five movements from William Walton's music for the film Richard III: Fanfare, Music Plays, With Drums and Colours, I Would I Knew Thy Heart, and Trumpet Sounded. This was an excellent rendition with various groups of instruments standing out in each section, particularly the clarinets in the third movement, the strings in the fourth and the brass in the fifth. Then followed extracts from another suite, this time the Capriol Suite by Peter Warlock. This had originally been written for piano duet in 1926 but this was an arrangement made in 1928 by the composer for full orchestra. This suite is a series of medieval dances and the movements played this evening were Basse-Danse, Pavane, Bransles, and Mattachins. The strings were excellent in the fist movement, and the woodwind and percussion in the second. All sections played extremely well.

The fourth of five suites being played this evening followed the Warlock:. the Trevelyan Suite by Malcolm Arnold, which was written in 1967 to celebrate the opening of Trevelyan College, Durham University in March 1968. Only two of the three movements that constitute this suite were played tonight, the first and the third, Palindrome and Apotheosis, which were written for a double wind quartet (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets and horns), with an additional flute and 2 bassoons. The first movement is a musical palindrome with the opening section being repeated in reverse (each note, rest and dynamic) after a unison section. making for a slightly odd but interesting musical form. After a slightly dodgy start, the group settled down and produced a sensitive performance. The second movement they played started with a lively melody in flutes and oboes, followed by a contrasting melody in the horns and bassoons, while the upper woodwind maintain the excitement. The first melody returns, first in the clarinets, then in the flutes and oboes, and then the music builds up to a fanfare-like climax.

An abridged version of Mendelssohn's Fifth Symphony followed, the four movements played being Andante-Allegro, Allegro Vivace, Andante, and Chorale. This was an excellent interpretation and rendition , leading nicely into the culmination of a pleasant evening, the playing of the fifth and final suite: Bizet's first Carmen suite that consisted of the Prelude, the Aragonaise and the Toreodors' March and Song, all very well known tunes.

The performance was very much appreciated by the audience and the Bizet had to be repeated before the orchestra could leave the stage. A most enjoyable evening.

© Charlie Napier, 27 August 2005. Published on www edinburghguide.com.

Series continues August 27, 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue

   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
The Lydian Orchestra (Page 98)
Premiere of the James Long Kaleidochimera

Drams full glass
Music Ludwig van Beethoven: Fidelio Op.72-Overture; James Long (1987 - ): Kaleidochimera - Chimera I; Chimera II; Skerz; Chimera III; Robert Schumann: Symphony No 5 in E Flat Major 'Rhenish'
Performers Michael Grant (saxophone); The Lydian Orchestra, Ethan Merrick (Director),
Date 27 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

It was a pleasure to welcome this independent, self-supporting, youth orchestra from Sevenoaks, Kent, once more. On their last visit in 2003, the orchestra was short on numbers because some members decided to stay at home for their A Level results. This did not seem to be the case this year, as the orchestra looked as if it was at full strength. The orchestra was again under the direction of Ethan Merrick, a very fine young conductor who seems to have established a good rapport with the members of the orchestra.

The concert opened with a very good rendering of Beethoven's Fidelio Overture. The story of the opera, and its condensation into the format of the overture, is often likened to Beethoven's own situation at the time: imprisoned by his deafness but still having hope for the future. This overture has all the characteristics of Beethoven (the seriousness and the passion, heroism and triumph) and the orchestra displayed it all. Its attack, dynamics and intonation were excellent and special mention must be made of the horns in the latter stages.

It is a tradition in Sevenoaks to select a "Young Musician of the Year". One of the prizes that goes with this award is the opportunity to play a concerto with the orchestra, and like 2003, the opportunity coincided with the visit of the orchestra to the FBYO in Edinburgh. The soloist this evening was that "Young Musician of the Year for 2004", Michael Grant, a very talented young saxophone player. Michael is continuing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music as well as with a private teacher. While it is a great opportunity for a young soloist to play a concerto with an orchestra, it is not often that one actually has a concerto written for him -and - gets to give its premiere in Scotland.

James Long, the composer of the saxophone concerto Kaleidochimera, is only 18 years old, a talented and prize-winning pianist, a flute player in this orchestra, and a student at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, where he is studying composition and the flute. This concerto was specially written for tonight's soloist, with whom James often performs. They were fellow students at the RCM Junior Department.

Kaleidochimera is an astoundingly mature work for a composer so young. While it has touches of modernity, it is firmly rooted in the 20th century and shows influences of the more traditionally-minded composers of that era, while still retaining elements of the traditional classical styles. A rough translation of the title (from Greek) gives "a beautiful medley or fusion of ideas" and the work certainly lives up to its title.

Chimera I does contain elements of chaos and tension that one might expect from a contemporary piece, but there is still tradition lurking in the background. The virtuosity of the soloist is allowed to shine through, especially in the very free (a piacere) cadenza. Chimera II is completely different. It starts with a slow chorale on the strings, in triple time, with the cellos especially fine, which is developed before moving into a more flowing section in quadruple time. The solo part tries to emerge from this but does not quite succeed before the music returns to the beauty and tranquillity of the chorale. Skerz is a short waltz played on a soprano saxophone rather thatn the alto saxophone used in the other movements. Skerz is taken from the Italian word Scherzo, meaning a joke, and the music reflects the title. To my mind, this movement, in particular, demonstrated the 20th century influences. The soloist reverted to the alto saxophone for the final movement, Chimera III. After an extended orchestral introduction, the music goes contrapuntal, in the form of a three-part fugue from which the soloist develops an unaccompanied solo. The orchestra rejoins the soloist and they all finish in a flourish.

This was a surprisingly enjoyable work to listen to, even on the first hearing. This young composer certainly showed that he has the talent for handling the orchestration and also the imagination for the inventiveness of the work. This is someone that we are definitely going to hear from in the future.

The concert was completed in the second half by a performance of Schumann's Rhenish Symphony. This was one of Schumann's happier works, composed during his time at Düsseldorf, and the music reflects his happiness at that time. The orchestra gave a very fine performance. It finished with an encore, one of Brahms's Hungarian Dances, which it played with gusto and enjoyment.

A very fine concert.

© Charlie Napier, 27 August 2005. Published on www edinburghguide.com.

Series continues August 29 30, 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue

   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Junior Guildhall Brass Band (Page 98)

Drams full glass
Music Edward Gregson: Occasion; Peter Graham: Shine as the light; James Curnow: Rhapsody for euphonium; Claude Debussy: Sonata for violin; Bizet (arr. Waxman): Carmen fantasie; Trad. (arr. William Hines): Amazing grace; Kenny Baker (arr. Jack Peberdy): Virtuosity; Dave Brubeck (arr. Kevin Edwards): Blue rondo à la turque; Peter Graham: Cossack firedance
Performers Jeanine Thorpe (violin); James Kreiling (piano); Spencer Down (Conductor)
Date 30 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Bruce Haughan

Junior Guildhall Brass Band 2005
© Bruce Haughan

A brass band at full volume needs a large space in which to play, and even the Central Hall at Tollcross cannot really supply this. In Edinburgh you are talking the Usher Hall, the McEwan Hall, or St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral; or - let's be honest - the open air. Fortunately Spencer Down did not allow a lack of space to cramp the Junior Guildhall Brass Band's style, and some of its loudest playing brought a frisson to the back of the neck. Very soft, gorgeous brass band music can do the same, but this the Band did not quite achieve - nearly, but not quite.

The Band overall made a very good sound. Trumpets played with cornets, several members playing both. Four french horns and an alto cornet took the tenor line, but the euphoniums and tubas ensured a splendid richness of tone. The opening piece, Occasion, was a loud fanfare and a good opener, and paved the way for Peter Graham's rich writing in Shine as the light, based on a traditional hymn tune. Tubas and euphoniums were particularly mellifluous here, and the final statement of the melody, in half time, was spine-tingling - the percussion (including the timpani) was especially expressive here. The Band's lead euphonium, Gerren Penfold, taking the solo in Curnow's Rhapsody was, understandably, a little uncertain during his exposed unaccompanied opening, but settled down with the band behind him and produced a very good account of this piece.

At this point the Band gave way to violins solos by Jeanine Thorpe accompanied by James Kreiling. This was not a happy programming choice. Two 10-15 minute violin pieces in the middle of an hour-long brass band concert was at least one too long. The Debussy Sonata is a lovely work, but was wholly out of place on this occasion. Waxman's arrangement of a medley of Bizet's tunes in Carmen fantasie, with its tremendous bravura passages towards the end, was much more in keeping with the rest of the programme; but by the end of what was essentially an interlude, both the Band and audience was growing restive, albeit empathetically. This was unfortunate, because Jeanine Thorpe played technically brilliantly and with total commitment, and James Kreiling accompanied her very sensitively. The audience did respond to her virtuoso playing enthusiastically, but perhaps with a slight element of relief that the end had been reached. This is clearly a young soloist to listen to again.

The second part of the Band's programme opened with Amazing grace, a pleasant setting and well-played although the snare drum was a little too loud in its opening roll. The soloist in Virtuosity was the Band's lead cornet, Lauren Cave, exchanging her cornet for a trumpet in this vigorous swing number. Traditional jazz continued with Blue rondo à la turque. The Band switched tones and light and shade with agility, with both brass and percussion revealing a wide and compelling range of sounds. Instead of the advertised finale, the Band swung into another Peter Graham piece, Cossack firedance, which gave all voices one or two well-played solo passages and finished with a tremendous flourish.

This was an enjoyable concert overall, by some very talented young players expertly welded into a responsive ensemble by Spencer Down, the brass co-ordinator at the Junior Guildhall (among many other posts). The future of brass and percussion is in good hands.

© Bruce Haughan. 31 August 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com See also www.gsmd.ac.uk

Last in Band's Run 30 August 2005. The Band had already performed in Stirling Castle on 28 August and at the RSAMD, Glasgow on 29 August

Series continues August 31, September 1, 2, 3 in this venue

Junior Guildhall Brass (detail)
© Bruce Haughan



   

www.tonthefringe.com
Franz Ferdinand (page 101)
T on The Fringe Gig

Drams None
Music Enter as appropriate
Band Franz Ferdinand: Alex Kapranos (gtr/vox); Nicolas McCarthy (gtr/vox); Robert Hardy (bass); Paul Thomson (percussion)
Date 30August 2005
Venue Ross Bandstand, (Venue 52)
Address Princes Street Gardens (west)
Reviewer Roddy McNeil

I hurried along Princes Street towards the analogue throb of Ladytron's electro-pop wafting over the railings of the Gardens. I'm late, I'm late…a row of bodies lay on the pavement. In scary parts of the world these would be street-children, huddled together for safety on the mean streets.

The closest you usually come to a mean street in Edinburgh is when you walk along Princes Street eyes straight ahead, hands stuffed deep in pockets gripping your precious bawbees as you weave past the Big Issue sellers, charity-muggers and clipboard-wavers.

These waifs were ticketless Franz Ferdinand fans, stealing a glimpse through the gaps in the tarp strung between the trees.

Franz Ferdinand on tour
I'm late, I'm late for a very important gig. Franz Ferdinand are playing here for the first time in two years since the Hogmanay party was pulled due to bad weather. Since then they've gone global.

Tonight it's balmy late summer, the positive energies of the Festivals still charging the ions. As I drop down into the Gardens the light fades in the sky, the hollow quickens the night.

The Ross Bandstand - fronted by a big stage encrusted in Vari-lights and par-cans - could be the Hollywood Bowl dropped into Brigadoon while towering above the illuminated stage-set of the Castle sits astride hunking black volcanic rock.

Almost there. "We're Ladytron, thank you and goodnight!" Too late, too late for the support band date. Ladytron, 2girl2boy synthpop with a Perfect Pop single moment in Seventeen, a song about the sausage-machine of the music industry.'They only want you when you're 17, when you're 21 you're no fun'.

Next act onstage is The Long Technical Change-over. Look, a silver riser! Look, drum bits! Wow, a guitar! Mic-fiddling, amp-stroking' fun. For Techies. Stage crews pretend they're invisible but they're part of the show too and could do with being more entertaining. I'm thinking choreography and hot-pants. I'm thinking the Roadieboys Of Knockbank.

Just as the audience are getting restless the stage lights dim, the theme to Doctor Who materializes in the PA, amid pulsing white and blue light an electroid vortex swirls against a backdrop as Franz Ferdinand walk on stage to the roar of the crowd. With the opening riffs of Michael the backdrop falls away to reveal a giant screen displaying the Franz Ferdinand logo. This cuts to live feed of the band shown in grainy black and white, highly - and no doubt deliberately - evocative of early Beatles TV performances.

Franz Ferdinand
© www. fbi.ee

Short n' smart haircuts, shirts and ties and skinny drainpipe trousers, the upbeat tinny guitar sound, Paul Thomson's minimalist drumkit has even fewer cymbals than Ringo's . There's none of the teen hysteria but all of the beat group energy.

It's modern moptop-ery, that's what it be.

9 of the 15 tracks are from the magnificent self-titled debut album. Non-single songs like Auf Achse, 40ft and Come On Home were great to hear live.

Franz Ferdinand are at that classic 'difficult second album' stage. Having taken the world by storm with the insanely catchy Take Me Out - fantastic live - and lauded in America for their style, charm and tunes, new album Life Could Be So Much Better With… has to maintain the signature sound while showing development and range. Even 'music for girls to dance to' is expected to show progression

Five new tracks off the album are showcased (six if previously download-only This Fire is on the album). What You Meant, I'm Your Villain, The Fallen, You Could Have It So Much Better and first single off the album Do You Want To.

When I first heard it on the radio I felt like a whisky-taster taken aback at a new blend bristling with old and not particularly distinguished flavours.

Mmm, my music nose is overwhelmed with Glam and Bubblegum, spiced with Gay Disco. Kenny 'The Bump', Toni Basil 'Hey Mickey', a mocking, winking 'lucky lucky lucky' Kylie. There's a strong undertow of Status Quo and the presence of a Chinn-Chapman A-Side from 1975 that in '73 at their hit-making height woulda been a B-side.

And yet, the more you sup of it the better it gets. There is effervescence and wit, enough muscularity and bounce to get even the most socially awkward and dance shy stomping along and shouting "here we are at the Transmission party, I like your friends they're all so arty!"

Do You Want To is a very sociable drink, well up for a party. Triple-distilled knowing Art-Pop that's going to storm the dance floors and the charts

It was certainly a superior tipple to the chucked beer that rained over the crowd's heads throughout the gig.

Franz Ferdinand take the opportunity to acknowledge local roots. "Did anyone here go to Blackhall Primary School?" asks Alex. " No? I did. Did anyone go to Portobello High School?" Now there's a good few cheers and shouts, a decent showing from Porty F.P. "So did Paul!" Boom tish! More cheers.

I'm Your Villain and The Fallen are heavier material, lurking at the darker end of 60's British Beat, Nic even steps away from guitar duties to man the synth.

It looks like they've done it. Sounds unmistakeably like Franz Ferdinand, broader and deeper. This Fire, saved for the encore, has all of the old and new, bigger, beefier and bouncier.

Princes Street Gardens is a unique place to see any band, intimate and grand. To see Franz Ferdinand before they take The Sound Of Young Scotland around the arenas of the world is a dart of pleasure, which was the last song.

They bestride the stage with super-confidence and super-fantastisch tunes, winding up Darts Of Pleasure with Bob, Nic and Alex standing on the drum-riser, guitars pointing at Paul, their band energy tied into four guys in a small room grooving off each other, only to turn round to find themselves on a big stage in front of a large audience peering through their bedroom window. I'm sure they'll get used to it.

© Roddy McNeil 2nd September 2005. Published on www.edinburghguide.com
Run : 30, 31 August 2005. Go to www.franzferdinand.co.uk for details of forthcoming tour.

Life Could Be So Much Better With…Franz Ferdinand
is out on 3rd October 2005.


   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Perth Youth Orchestra (Page 98)

Drams full glass full glass
Music Giuseppe Verdi: Nabucco-Overture; . Bach: Concerto in A minor for piano and orchestra; Joseph Schubert (1754-1837): Concerto for viola and orchestra in C major-1st Movement: Allegro; Robert W Smith (b. 1958): The Divine Comedy (Ascension and Paradiso); Dvorak: Symphony No. 6 in D major Op.60-Movements 1-3: Allegro non Tanto; Adagio; Scherzo: Furiant (Presto); Walton: Crown Imperial march
Performers Rosanna Young (piano); Catriona Steele (viola); Perth Youth Orchestra, Allan R Young (Director)
Date 31 August 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

This evening's concert in the FBYO series was given by an orchestra that has attended every Festival since its inception. A great record, which I am sure will continue. This orchestra is always welcome and one is assured of a good, competent performance, at the very least.

The concert started with the Overture from Verdi's opera Nabucco. First performed in 1842, this opera is probably best known for The chorus of the Hebrew slaves, which tune is incorporated, as well as many others from the opera, in the overture. It really is just a taster for what is to come. This was a very good, competent performance but it suffered from the usual Central Hall problem of the acoustics not really being suitable for a full symphony orchestra of 82 players, the problem of the brass overpowering the strings in the loud passages. In the softer passages, the balance was much better.

The Director this evening was Allan R Young. He started off as a violinist in the orchestra when he was a schoolboy and attained the position of co-leader before he left. He has continued his association with the orchestra over the years, being a string tutor before taking up the position of Director in 2000.

Tonight, the person seated in the co-leader's chair was Rosanna Young, Allan's daughter and showed her pianistic talents by playing the solo part in this short, one-movement keyboard concerto by J S Bach. It was a typical Bach keyboard part accompanied by strings. The piano part was played with sensitivity and fluidity but could have been given stronger support from the strings. The sound produced by the strings was exquisite, but, unfortunately, too soft. At times it could not be heard.

The programme continued with yet another member of the Young family demonstrating her skills. This time is was Catriona Steele, the leader of the Viola section, who is Allan's niece. She played the first movement of a Viola Concerto by Joseph Schubert. Little is known of this composer except that he was a violinist/violist, who lived and worked in Bohemia and Germany during the latter part of the 18th century and the first few decades of the 19th century. He was not related to the famous Franz Schubert. This concerto seems to be the only work of Joseph's that is known. It was typical of the period and Catriona gave a very fine performance. The support was given by strings with one horn and (I think) two oboes.

The first half was finished by two movements from Robert W Smith's composition The Divine Comedy. Robert W Smith is one of the most prolific American composers of concert band music. The orchestra played two movements of his four-movement suit based on Dante Aligheri's classic poem. These two movements were more like orchestral tone poems and they did reflect musically the sentiments expressed in the poems. They were played with feeling and expression.

After the interval, the programme continued with a very capable performance of the first three movements of Dvorak's Symphony No.6, Op.60. This is not one of his better known symphonies, and it was a pity that we did not hear the last movement. But there was a good reason for this. Earlier, the orchestra had been asked to play before Her Majesty the Queen at the opening of the new Perth Concert Hall, and so was not able to complete the work on this last movement to get it up to performance standard. Nevertheless, the performance of the other movements was more than adequate.

The concert finished with a very spirited performance of Crown Imperial, the march written by William Walton for the Coronation of the Queen's father King George VI. It made a very good toe-tapping finish to an enjoyable concert.

© Charlie Napier, 31 August 2005. Published on www edinburghguide.com.

Series continues September 1, 2, 3 in this venue
   

Festival of British Youth Orchestras Series (page 97)
Closing Concert - Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra (Page 97)

Drams full glass
Music Glinka: Ruslan and Ludmilla-Overture; Parry: Elegy to Brahms; Liszt: Les preludes; Sibelius: Symphony No.1 in E minor Op.39
Performers Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra, Dr Alasdair Mitchell (Conductor)
Date 3 September 2005
Venue Central Hall (Venue 100).
Address West Tollcross
Reviewer Charlie Napier

This was the final concert in this year's Festival of British Youth Orchestras and, as usual, it was given by the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra under the leadership of its usual conductor, Dr Alasdair Mitchell. I am delighted to report that this year the orchestra gave a much-improved performance compared with last year.

The concert opened with the well-known Glinka overture to his opera, Ruslan and Ludmilla. This is probably Glinka's most played piece and a good one to open a concert. It is lively from beginning to end and is full of good Russian folk tunes which he uses in the opera. There was good attack from the orchestra right from the first down beat, and the good start boded well for the rest of programme. The violins were excellent, with good intonation and togetherness, even in the rapid scale passages. The cellos played their tune beautifully.

The second item, the Parry tribute to Brahms, was an interesting work. According to the programme notes, Alasdair Mitchell found the manuscript for this work in 1976, and was astonished that the first performance had been at Parry's memorial service in 1918 and that it had not been played since. So the composer never got to hear it!

Alasdair prepared the parts for performance and was responsible for the piece being played, and recorded, a number of times since. The music was very dark and brooding, as befits an elegy, but it was also very rhapsodic. It was definitely Brahmsian in style and featured the clarinets, an instrument of which Brahms was very fond.

This was a very good performance with the orchestra being very responsive to the conductor.

The third item on the programme was Les Preludes, by Liszt. Not only was Liszt one of the best pianist of his day, but he was also a very innovative composer. Les Preludes is one of his more innovative works, demonstrating one of his musical inventions, "The Metamorphosis of Themes". Scholes' Oxford Companion to Music says about this "a piece of programme music would be based on some theme or themes representative of some person or idea and as the music progressed and the circumstances imagined altered in accordance with the underlying literary or dramatic scheme of the composition, the theme would change in character."

In this work, the theme was first presented in the strings and then progressed through the various sections of the orchestra; of especial note were those episodes where the theme was in the brass and the cellos. The music was quite episodic, changing from light to dark. There was just a hint of poor intonation in the strings towards the end, and there were a few small problems in the upper strings when they were playing the rapid swooping up and down scales - it was very difficult for the players to keep absolutely together, but they recovered and produced a grand finish.

The second half of the programme was taken up with just one work, the Sibelius Symphony No.1. This is not the easiest work to play and after last year's performance of Mahler's First symphony, I wondered how they would fare. But this was a different orchestra from the one that played last year, or at least it sounded like it.

It was a very confident performance, with each section performing at its best. It was not a perfect performance, but it was obvious that a lot of hard work had been put into it, so it would be churlish to be critical of minor blemishes. Overall it was a very, very good performance. The audience also thought so and Alasdair was brought back numerous times, by the orchestra as much as the audience, to take his bows, which he generously shared with the orchestra. They thoroughly deserved all the applause they got tonight.

This was a fitting end to a series of concerts in which the standard of playing of all the young musicians who participated in this Festival is reaching great heights. I think the future of British music is assured. My thanks to the staff of the National Association of Youth Orchestra for all the hard work they do to achieve a successful Festival.

© Charlie Napier. 3 September 2005. Published on www edinburghguide.com


Central Hall, Tollcross, Edinburgh
© C. Napier



(F) 13 out of 49
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