A group of young musicians have been given the opportunity to perform in a unique orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

As part of Rattle’s 60th birthday London Residency, the Young Orchestra for London has formed to play in two concerts with Rattle at the Barbican (Thursday 12 February) and the Southbank Centre (Sunday 15 February).

The orchestra comprises of 100 musicians aged between 11 and 21 of mixed ability (grade 3 and above), who were selected in an open recruitment day at Southbank Centre at the end of last year. Run by the Southbank and Barbican in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Young Orchestra for London has been taking part in workshops and rehearsals with the LSO’s animateur Rachel Leach, conductors Ben Gernon and Duncan Ward and players of the LSO, London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic.

‘The Young Orchestra for London is an aspirational orchestra that exists to allow young musicians of any experience to live and breathe the excitement and inspiration of playing in and being part of an orchestra,’ conductor Ben Gernon tells BBC Music Magazine.

‘I relish the opportunity to strip the music back to its bare bones and explore every note - working on colours, articulation and helping everyone play the way they really want to. It is so rewarding when everything clicks and the machine starts working,’ he explains.

‘It’s about giving less experienced players a great opportunity,’ says conductor Duncan Ward. ‘That being said, we do have some more experienced players in the mix and they have been sat next to the youngest or most inexperienced players to build the team. That’s one of the really nice things about this – the team spirit.’

Ward continues: ‘Of course it’s a challenge catering for different levels of players, but there’s a range of music and parts, and as teachers and conductors we have absolute trust and confidence so we aim at a very high level and everyone raises their game.’

‘I hope that all of our musicians will have a really enjoyable experience that allows them to explore classical music, their instruments and most importantly, their imagination,’ says Gernon.

‘With such an illustrious music team, they will have the chance to learn from and form relationships with some of the world's best musicians, sharing their experiences and helping them improve their musicianship and technique… This is an immensely positive experience, and will really bring all of our musicians together as they work towards their goal of being the capital's leading young orchestra.’

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And the experience of working with Sir Simon Rattle? ‘A dream,’ says Ward. ‘He’s very warm and open.’

Gernon agrees. ‘Sir Simon Rattle is an immense figure of inspiration and pure dedication to sharing classical music with everyone, and in particular younger musicians… I can't wait for him to start work with the Young Orchestra for London.’

The Young Orchestra for London performs music by Jean Sibelius and Malcolm Arnold on 12 and 15 February at the Barbican and the Southbank. For further details of Rattles London Residency, visit: www.southbankcentre.co.uk

Photo: Camilla Greenwell


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