classical music

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The Independent Culture
The great thing about youth orchestra concerts is that they put the focus where it ought to be - on the vitality of the music-making itself. No star cults, even with guest conductors, and no jaded routine; just playing that sounds as though lives depend on it. As indeed they do, whether for the emotional lifeline that music can provide through adolescence, or because being chosen for, say, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain can start a career.

If you've avoided the NYO's concerts becuase the name sounds like some worthy school band, you will have missed some of the most single-minded and exciting performances that orchestral life can offer. Skills are polished at residential rehearsal courses during holiday and vacation periods. Close your eyes, and it sounds like a profesional orchestra giving 150 per cent. Often the extra 50 per cent is visible too, since sections double up for large-scale pieces.

All that should make Wednesday night's Shostakovich symphony at the Barbican Hall an experience. This is No 12, one of the composer's patriotic pieces. The concert's build-up begins with Berlioz and continues with the glowing Mathis der Maler symphony by Hindemith. On the conductor's podium will be Louis Frmaux. Anybody who used to follow the regional orchestras will know that he was doing brilliant work with the CBSO long before Simon Rattle had been thought of. The concert moves on to Birmingham's Symphony Hall for a repeat on Friday.

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