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REVIEW: Rise Up! National Youth Orchestra

Rise up! National Youth Orchestra, Warwick Arts Centre, January 3.

Warwick Arts Centre witnessed a phenomenal event: 164 magnificent young musicians playing and singing with passion, precision and absolute focus.

The sound this orchestra produced was superb — as good as, if not better, than the sound of any professional orchestra.

This was extraordinary given that this was the orchestra’s first concert in its current format and half the musicians were new members.

They have a wonderfully-inspiring, highly-acclaimed, clearly trusted and respected conductor in Jaime Martin.

In the pre-concert talk he explained how the lack of a collective memory in a youth orchestra with no habits about how a particular piece should be played, meant they experienced the thrill of discovering a new piece together, where ‘'Everything is possible'’.

The dynamic range they produced was incredible, its crescendos forceful in the extreme, its diminuendos breath-takingly subtle, and its rhythmic control masterful, especially through the sensitive yet powerful percussion section.

It really does seems churlish to single out any one musician, as all sections of the orchestra played as one — even moving and breathing as one unit, of particular note being the violas in the Shostakovich — but some players did have solos, and these were outstanding.

The cor anglais solo towards the end of the Shostakovich was unforgettable.

Hope resides in the young musicians of the NYO: not only are they from a 21st-century generation whose voice can and will be heard on issues that matter to us all, they are evidence of and a celebration of what can be achieved through global unity.

Rise Up! is the theme of the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) of Great Britain’s Winter Concert Tour. The programme: Hans Eisler’s Auf den Strassen zu Singen (We are Singing in the Streets) (1928), Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem (1940) and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11 ’The Year 1905’ (1957). All these pieces carry a political message — Eisler’s objection to extreme nationalism; Britten’s anti-war stance and Shostakovich’s denunciation of violent suppression.

Winner!