Prom 31: National Youth Orchestra of GB/Norrington, Royal Albert Hall, London

A sea of white shirts, red ties, fresh faces; and more woodwind and brass than you could muster for the average wind-band convention. The annual Prom visit of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain is always a heartening event, an indication - albeit a small one - that the tradition of live music-making in this country still has a future. You may ask yourself, based on these results, why the opportunities are not more widespread, why music teaching in schools is still the exception not the rule. But at least it's an annual reminder of just what is possible given the will and the way.

Sir Roger Norrington was the man with the baton this year, the man charged with convincing us yet again that there can be safety in numbers. It's a tall order maintaining balance and co-ordination with a band of this size. Turning corners can be a nightmare. Three movements from Smetana's Ma Vlast certainly tested their unanimity. The euphonious chordal writing which sets in prospect the rocky fortress of "Vysehrad" was a little fuzzy around the edges; the thickness of the texture, with distinct bias towards the winds, took a bit of getting used to.

Not even Norrington, master of the open, well-articulated sound, could do much about that, though he didn't concede to the weight of numbers when negotiating the Bohemian knees-up at the heart of "Vltava".

Then amidst the same Bohemian woods and fields we encountered the young Gustav Mahler and the magic descended. There's nothing quite like youth confronting youth in music. These youngsters could relate first hand to the wilful audacity of Mahler's First Symphony - the high risks he took, the bravado he displayed. They did too. If it hadn't been for the inveterate coughers the "sound of silence" at the outset might have stretched our ears still more. Because Norrington was stretching all the extremes, pushing the pace beyond recommended safety limits, highlighting the volatility, the rashness and youthful impetuosity of the score in the outer movements. And these kids were fearless in going the extra distance.

But it was in the third movement with its bleak minor-key rendition of "Frere Jacques" and cheap kosher café music that their precocity really came into its own. The characterisation was so knowing, the parody spot on, right down to the caustic clarinets and sleazy vibrato of the trumpet sound. Then again, at the dreamy heart of this movement, who would have credited the tender phrasing of the melody in muted violins. That was very grown up.

When the symphony's triumphant peroration arrived - with horns, trumpets, and trombones upstanding - it was not just exciting, it was moving - because it symbolised youthful endeavour, the will to succeed, and optimism for the future. Here's hoping.

Booking: 020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms. Prom 31 available online until Saturday

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test