YORK has a new orchestra. After merely six weeks of rehearsal, York Youth Orchestra has taken its opening bow under conductor Ben Crick.

This is a hugely important initiative, under the auspices of York Arts Education and York Music Hub. This new term-time group fills a vital gap alongside Yorchestra, the holiday operation, with both acting as feeders for our two senior orchestras.

It is testimony to Crick’s enterprise that YYO was able to attract a soloist of Raphael Wallfisch’s calibre to play Elgar’s Cello Concerto. That followed Howard Skempton’s Lento – part of an admirable policy of “exploring contemporary repertoire” – with Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony to round off the evening.

The orchestra is still recruiting and is thus only relatively small, slightly under 50 players including a small adult stiffening. Only half of these are strings, which means that balance favours winds and brass. Time will soon solve that problem, but already we have the makings of a first-class ensemble.

Crick’s decisive beat was keenly observed by his young charges. The Skempton gave the strings a welcome chance to shine. The whole ensemble was equally alert in the Elgar backing Wallfisch, who brought sensitive restraint to his beautifully tailored phrasing.

There was tremendous brio in the symphony. Lively winds were complemented by keen-edged brass throughout. Rallentandos in the graceful Allegretto were neatly judged, and there was some lovely shading from the flutes before an exciting finish, discipline notably intact.