The NYO have enhanced their already well-deserved reputation in recent years. Their concerts are a rare thing. They come with a guarantee: you will be amazed and delighted.
Stravinsky’s Fireworks is a tough opener. Short, merciless and unforgiving. It is arguably the most demanding part of their Spring programme.
Michael Daugherty’s Fire and Blood makes similar demands, but this work was where the band really engaged, evident by the warm and fluid relationship the musicians had formed with 21 year-old American violinist Chad Hoopes.
Daugherty’s writing acknowledges the needs of the player and that of the listener, tantalising with seductive orchestrations. The NYO knew it and capitalised effortlessly. The opening of the second movement – ‘River Rogue’ – tickled the ear. Throughout the work there are gratifying influences from Britten’s Violin Concerto. In the final analysis however, Daugherty palette is altogether richer.
The huge scale of the orchestra leant itself well for what turned out to be an organic performance of Stravinsky’s Firebird. The band played with remarkable energy, responsiveness and honesty. Little wonder that when all 134 players stood to receive their applause, we stood too. There is something infectious about their playing. To not give an ovation would be churlish.
We should no longer marvel at the achievements of young people playing like adults. Instead, we should judge an NYO concert on the same level as a professional orchestra.
They might even be able to give us something a professional orchestra can’t. The NYO aren’t dulled by the pressures of everyday life. Listening to their performance isn’t a compromise – the act of a smitten parent marvelling at their loved one’s moment in the limelight. With the NYO we are treated to the purest form of music-making.
The NYO derives 75% of funding from trusts and foundations, individual supporters donors and friends. Tonight’s concert is evidence of that considerable support. Long may it continue.