Following the success of the NYO Unleashed format in Spring 2018, NYO Musicians will once again take the lead in presenting orchestral music for audiences worldwide this Summer. Celeste player Joseph (17), harpist Siobhan (16), and percussionist Simone (17) have written a script with universal appeal and have worked with BBC broadcaster Tom Redmond on their presentation skills. The televised BBC Prom is a unique opportunity for the 164-strong orchestra to share its passion for orchestral music with millions around the globe.

Chief Executive and Artistic Director Sarah Alexander said: “I can think of no better advocates or ambassadors for this incredible sound-world than our brilliant teenagers, who live and breathe this music, seek out its adventures, and can use their talent for communication to speak to their peers, and to the widest possible audience possible.”

The orchestra is conducted in these concerts by a musician considered an essential voice in contemporary composition and performance, Sir George Benjamin. Benjamin is a natural choice to work with young musicians; as a prodigious young talent, he was already studying with Olivier Messiaen at the age of sixteen, but he also understands the challenges of the complex modern world in which endless possibilities and choice can impede the creative process. It will be an opportunity for the seven composers who are part of NYO Creative Hub to interact with such a significant creative figure. NYO will perform his Dance Figures – nine choreographic sketches for orchestra, a virtuosic showcase for large orchestra from 2004, of which Andrew Clark in the Financial Times said “in 15 minutes it expresses more than most composers do in an hour.” For Paul Driver in The Sunday Times, the pieces “mysteriously evoke 20th-century orchestration at its most lucid and glamorous.”

Benjamin first heard the extraordinary music of György Ligeti as a nine-year-old – in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey – and since then has gone on to become one of the composer’s foremost interpreters. He premiered Ligeti’s final orchestral work, the Hamburg Concerto, in 2001 and recorded a Gramophone Award-winning account of Lontano with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2012. Benjamin conducts the latter work (made famous in Kubrick’s soundtrack to The Shining) in this programme with NYO. Written in 1967, and described by Ligeti as depicting the opening and closing of "a window on long submerged dream worlds of childhood", this twentieth-century classic employs a vast orchestra to conjure a series of haunting dream images which appear, briefly coalesce, then dissipate.

Tamara Stefanovich joins the orchestra for Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, and the concerts open with Mussorgsky’s terrifying vision of A Night on the Bare Mountain in Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestration. This is a programme rich in atmosphere and orchestral sonorities, culminating in Debussy’s dramatic seascape La mer.

George Benjamin said: “Having been a tremendous fan of NYO since my teenage years, I am greatly looking forward to working with this extraordinary group of young performers, with their special quality of enthusiasm and joy in music-making. It will also be a very special privilege to perform Debussy’s La mer – one of his greatest masterpieces – with NYO at the BBC Proms, as part of the commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death.”

NYO is a national charity that relies on voluntary donations to support its annual programme of work. This year NYO continues to run additional events around the concerts, with groups of Young Promoters – recruited from state schools - inviting their peers and teenage audiences to experience orchestral music for the first time and meet NYO Musicians at Teen Hangouts in which will be held alongside concerts in Birmingham and London. The Summer residency and performances follow on from NYO Inspire Orchestra, a residential orchestral course designed specifically to provide pathways for state school musicians to develop their playing at the highest level, alongside current NYO Musicians.


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