AYO National Music Camp 2024: Concert Review 1
By Caitlin Annesley
‘World-class’. ‘Amazing’. ‘Virtuosic’. These oft-quoted adjectives are the coveted descriptions of elite orchestral performance. The AYO National Music Camp orchestras achieved all of these in a glorious concert comparable to a top-tier professional ensemble.
Listening to the teenaged Bishop Orchestra playing Ligeti’s Concert Românesc under Toby Thatcher was a rollercoaster, such was the musical G-force exerted on the audience’s ears. Amidst brief movements of calm, portrayed by excellent solos from the cor anglais and horns, the orchestra’s performance of this short piece was shocking. Shockingly good, that is. Under Thatcher, the orchestra played with frightening intensity, producing sounds that elicited gasps from this reviewer. The concertmaster’s daredevil solo was otherworldly in its brazen energy, producing smiles from his colleagues. This was a gut-punch of an opening to a remarkable evening.
Led by violinist Sophie Rowell, the Brislan Chamber Orchestra’s performances of Melody Eötvös’ Meraki and Suk’s Serenade for Strings held a delicately ethereal contrast to the Bishop Orchestra’s earth-shattering introduction. This ensemble showed the refinement of an experienced professional group, producing a consistently gorgeous sound across a huge dynamic range.
The Alexander Orchestra was the musical equivalent of a brisk morning run after the evening calm of the Brislan ensemble, spirit characterising their performance of Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody. Conductor Ariel Zuckermann took this folk-inspired work at a daringly frantic pace which his youthful band proved more than capable of following. This rousing showpiece was followed by an immersive performance of Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. The reviewer was pulled into a universe of music where all words were lost.
‘It’s good – for a youth orchestra,’ is a demeaning description sometimes thrown at young musicians. But this was world-class, amazing, virtuosic music-making. And achieved in one week.
That’s not just good for a youth orchestra. It’s good for an orchestra.