Following on from being awarded the Classic FM Special Achievement prize at the National Festival of Music for Youth, in Symphony Hall Birmingham (early July 2013), John and OCYO will close the NFMY ‘Proms’ at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday 12th November, performing Richard Strauss’ Don Juan and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no.1, with all the style of the LNOFP.

John and OCYO toured Don Juan, with Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony, and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, to Perugia, Italy, in July 2013, culminating in a final concert at the Town Hall, Oxford; this four star review was published by the Oxford Times [Nicola Lisle, Thursday 8th August]:

‘Oxfordshire’s leading youth ensemble was in fine fettle on Sunday night, tackling a challenging programme with exceptional energy and pizzazz. Strauss’s Don Juan is such a notoriously difficult piece that apparently one of the horn players in its 1889 premiere said to Strauss: “In what way have we sinned that you should have sent us this scourge?” So, not perhaps the best choice for a youth orchestra then? Far from it. These youngsters gave a breath-taking display of dazzling brilliance, capturing the rich variety of textures and dynamics of this powerful work with maturity and confidence. They had just handled the technical demands of one of the most exacting pieces in the classical repertoire like seasoned pros. Moving straight on to Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes, again there was some wonderful technical artistry in these atmospheric pieces, which evoke a whole range of moods, from a desolate dawn seascape to the bustle of a busy Sunday morning, and from a tranquil moonlit sea to the violent storm that brings the work to a compelling climax.

So to the finale — a grand, expansive and eloquent realisation of Rachmaninov’s momentous second symphony. There was again that same energy pulsating through this exhilarating work, with conductor John Traill keeping a firm hand on the tiller as the players explored the restless, brooding first movement, the spirited second movement, the beauty of the third and the joyous, upbeat ending. This was an impressive performance that showcased the stamina, versatility and incredible musicianship of these young players.’
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