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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Barbican Young Orchestra

The Barbican Centre may not look very exciting on the outside but inside it showcases some spectacular talent. This year launches the new Creative Learning Division which hopes to provide opportunities in all the arts for children, focusing particularly on areas of East London.

On Sunday 4 July I attended the Barbican Young Orchestra concert. An ensemble that my ridiculously talented 12 year sister is part of. This group, led and created by the prolific conductor, Sir Colin Davis has just completed its third annual concert. I have watched each of the three concerts, this was the best yet. The orchestra was made up of over a hundred young musicians ranging from 8-17 years. They were clearly all overcome with excitement as they walked up to their places on stage, and who wouldn’t be at the Barbican. My strongest memory of this venue is singing the glorious St Matthew Passion with my childhood choir here. Every year, at Easter time I would stand on this stage lapping up the buzz of the great hall. The auditorium was light as we sat waiting to sing, and I vividly remember counting all the audience members who were wearing red as I sat patiently.

The atmosphere last weekend was much less serious. The focus was on the children and their enjoyment of the music. Sir Colin’s choices for the programme were carefully thought through. The concert began with Mozart’s Adagio in E for strings, which featured a very competent solo from the seventeen year old Savitri Grier. Tchaikovsky’s dances from Eugene Onegin followed, these were my personal favourites of the night. Fast and furious at times but still full of character, the children certainly enjoyed the luscious melodies, and were impressively accurate with even the fastest of phrases. The concert concluded with the popular Finlandia, a dramatic Sibelius tone poem that seemed to move both audience and performers.

Sadly Sir Colin Davis was unable to conduct on the night, but Andrew Gourlay stepped in and did a sterling job. The whole evening was thoroughly enjoyable, and the performers were so professional I forgot I was watching children.

More information here.

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