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Scotsman EYO Review 16.04.13
Classical review: Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
By Ken Walton
Published on Tuesday 16 April 2013 02:35
IN ONE epic programme celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Edinburgh Youth
Orchestra had a package most orchestras would spread over several concerts.
Not only that, this awesome playlist – from Elgar to Wagner overtures via three heavyweight concertos – was put tog...ether in just two weeks.
The task was made easier by the fact that three mainstream conductors – Donald Runnicles, Garry Walker and En Shao – were the composite driving force, added to which, top-notch soloists Evelyn Glennie, Julian Lloyd Webber and Jack Liebeck (replacing an indisposed Nicola Benedetti) were the icing on a pretty impressive birthday cake.
With inspiration coming from every direction, then, and a healthy audience to ignite the party atmosphere, the scene was set for a triumphant night. It began with Runnicles taking charge of Elgar’s Cockaigne Overture, and a performance that was deliciously light of spirit, directional, though never lacking true Elgarian weight. Garry Walker took over for Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and a performance by Lloyd Webber that evolved naturally and without fuss.
Then came a gripping account of James MacMillan’s percussion concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel, the orchestra’s visceral intensity, under En Shao, a spine-tingling complement to Glennie’s action-packed performance.
The evening edged into overtime with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (1st movement), highlighting Liebeck’s precision as soloist, ending with Wagner and an audience chorus of Happy Birthday.
Runnicles proclaimed the EYO “a national treasure”. He’s damned right.
Herald Review 17.04.13
Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Wednesday 17 April 2013, The Herald
For half a century its intensive orchestral courses and adventurous foreign tours have been a rite of passage for classical musicians growing up in and around Edinburgh.
And if the rostrum of guest performers at this 50th anniversary gala proved the strength of Edinburgh Youth Orchestra alumni, the sound of the current band bodes extremely well for future generations of Edinburgh-bred talent.
It was a marathon celebration, which at six works and three hours long could have done with some trimming. It was no easy bill, either, opening with Elgar's tricky Cockaigne Overture (its skittish central passages flummox even the most experienced orchestras). EYO Patron Julian Lloyd Webber took a pensive rather than impassioned approach in Elgar's Cello Concerto; I admired the space he and conductor Garry Walker brought to the opening movement, but they needed more ebb and flow to keep up momentum. Things picked up with Evelyn Glennie as a captivating soloist and conductor En Shao drawing attentive, colourful orchestral playing in James MacMillan's Veni, Veni, Emmanuel.
But it was inevitable that the finest sounds of the night came with Donald Runnicles, former EYO horn player and student conductor, at the helm. An indisposed Nicola Benedetti was replaced by the excellent Jack Liebeck for the first movement of Beethoven's Violin Concerto; his silvery sound and thoughtful precision were matched by classy backing from the orchestra. In Wagner's Prelude to Die Meistersinger the strings were full-bodied and winds and brass brilliantly robust.
A playful arrangement of Happy Birthday by Eddie McGuire and a heartfelt address from Runnicles rounded off proceedings: "It was here, in the Usher Hall with EYO, that music first bit me," said the conductor.
"Please look after this orchestra. It's incredibly precious."
Dame Evelyn Glennie and En Shao put the EYO Through its Paces
See the Gallery for more pictures from the day
Day 12 - Rehearsing Elgar with Garry Walker
To see more pictures from the day, click HERE
Day 9 - The Conductors Begin to Arrive
The sun is shining again! All the more so, as our Patron En Shao and his family arrive today. En is a very old friend from the time he began conducting EYO in 2000 and we are thrilled to welcome him back this week. Tonight at 6, En will rehearse James MacMillan's Veni, Veni, Emmanuel which I know you are all now loving! James will be visiting us when Evelyn arrives. Have a relaxing day, even if you're back at school, and see you later!
Day 6 - Elgar by Day, Ceilidh by Night!
To have a listen to a section of the first full orchestra run through of Cockaigne, click HERE
Day 5 - The Massed Orchestra of the Spring EYO
Our keen but amateur photographer had her picture taking skills stretched to the limit earlier today, as the massed ranks of the EYO posed for a group picture! No prizes for spotting anyone who had forgotten their Golden Jubilee shirt!
Day 4 - Garry Comes in For a Bit of Elgar!
The 2014 Course will run from Friday 4th - Friday 11th April at St Thomas of Aquin's High School with concerts in the RCS Glasgow on Saturday 12th April and on Sunday 13th in the Usher Hall.
Click HERE for details
Programme for 2013 Gala Concert
Click HERE to download