Preview: Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Usher Hall

Edinburgh Youth Orchestra. Pic: Comp
Edinburgh Youth Orchestra. Pic: Comp
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EDINBURGH Youth Orchestra (EYO) return to the Usher Hall tomorrow with an ambitious programme of Russian music for the finale of its Golden Jubilee year.

Following an intensive week-long rehearsal at St Thomas of Aquin’s High School, on Chalmers Street, the 120-strong orchestra, all aged between 13 and 21, will perform under the baton of local conductor Garry Walker, their artistic director and a long-term supporter of the orchestra.

Walker, who was Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra from 2003 to 2007, says, “Edinburgh Youth Orchestra has once again selected a challenging and exciting programme for its 2014 concerts.

“I’m particularly looking forward to working with the players and music tutors on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring - a work seldom performed by a youth orchestra. I know that the players will rise to the challenge to bring EYO’s 50th anniversary year to a fitting close.”

The youngsters will be joined by violinist Jack Liebeck, who makes a welcome return as soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto - he stepped in as a last-minute replacement for an indisposed Nicola Benedetti in EYO’s Jubilee Gala Concert in April 2013.

Liebeck, now established as one of the most compelling young violinists on the concert platform, made his concert debut aged 15 and has since appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic and the Moscow State Symphony.

He says, “I’m honoured to be invited back as Edinburgh Youth Orchestra’s soloist this year in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. I was hugely impressed by the orchestra’s professionalism and youthful enthusiasm last year and am thrilled to be working again with such a progressive youth orchestra.”

Founded by Herrick Bunney and Margaret Rennie Moncrieff in 1963, EYO is one of Europe’s leading youth ensembles, giving young musicians the opportunity to play as a full symphony orchestra annually.

Auditions are open to young musicians from all over Scotland and culminate in concerts in major venues across the country.

In 2012 EYO performed with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq in Edinburgh and at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

Tomorrow’s programme includes Borodin’s In the Steppes of Central Asia and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

Edinburgh Youth Orchestra, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, tomorrow, 7.30pm, £15-£20, 0131-228 1155