Review: Yorchestra – Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, York

Yorchestra rehearsals

Yorchestra rehearsals

First published in Music news and reviews

Are there any life skills that orchestral playing leaves untouched?

As activities go, it seems to tick all the boxes: communication, teamwork, diplomacy, flexibility, technical skill, individual and collective responsibilities – all within the context of a wordless democracy. And when it really works, it’s about as much fun as you can have.

Yorchestra participants know this well. During each school holiday, local young musicians roll up for several days of intensive rehearsal and professional coaching before presenting the fruits of their labours in concert. Their two flagship ensembles somehow squeezed themselves into the Lyons Hall on Friday night to offer a flavour of this summer’s course.

The winds and strings of ‘Yorchestra Two’ kicked off separately with stylish film-score performances conducted by John Stringer and Dan Shilladay.

Joining forces under the good-humoured guidance of Chris Bradley, they threw off a Shostakovich waltz with panache before drumming up one helluva noise in Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

Natalia Luis-Bassa’s galvanising podium presence helped the ‘Yorchestra One’ players romp their way through Dvořák and Elgar.

However, it was in Tchaikovsky’s March Slave that they really turned the heat up, challenging music delivered with both impressive precision and emotional intensity.

As they swaggered, swooned, and swayed (literally) their way through a closing Arturo Marquez tango, I realised that it’s not everyday you see almost a hundred children working passionately together to achieve the same goal.

The opportunities courses like this offer are unbelievably important – I invite all sceptics to the next Yorchestra concert.

-  Richard Powell

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