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Young Sinfonia Residency 18-21 February 2017


Learning from early music specialist Jenni Cohen

In residence at NCEM

Rehearsing at University of York
The north of England's prestigious regional youth orchestra, Young Sinfonia, returned to York in February half-term for a packed programme of rehearsing, coaching, collaborating and performing. The four-day intensive offered in-depth learning opportunities with specialist musicians, as well as the chance for talented young people to gain experience of touring and performing at diverse venues outside their own local area.

Usually based at Sage Gateshead, Young Sinfonia brings together outstanding young musicians from the North of England. Members are normally aged 13-19 and play at the standard of grade 7/8 and above. The orchestra is trained by visiting artists and members of Royal Northern Sinfonia and also enjoys regular opportunities to play alongside this established professional ensemble and its music director Lars Vogt. As well as working regularly with Justin Doyle, over the past few years the orchestra has been conducted by international figures such as Garry Walker, Ainars Rubikis, Nicholas Kraemer and Jurjen Hempel. It has been joined by distinguished soloists such as Howard Shelley and Mark Simpson, and also provides concerto opportunities for its members. Young Sinfonia performs concerts in venues across the North East and has been on international tours to locations as far afield as Singapore. 

The ensemble's 2017 residency started with a bang on Saturday 18 February, with rehearsals and improvisation coaching at the University of York, under the expert direction of Justin Doyle, followed by an evening at the NCEM to enjoy Roderick Williams, Kitty Whately and Peter Seymour's performance of 20th Century Shakespeare settings.

Rehearsals continued on Sunday 19 February with a focus on two contemporary commissions by young composers: Frederick Viner's L'Orfeo Settings and Oliver Mack's Before the Beginning, both of which were created especially for Young Sinfonia. Frederick Viner's work was the result of a two-term collaboration with the youth orchestra, as part of his position as a Music Creator within the Sage Gateshead PRS Fund Emerging Artist Programme. Oliver Mack's own understanding of Young Sinfonia came from within the ranks, from his seat as lead second violin. He is also studying composition at Birmingham Conservatoire.

Monday 20 Febuary saw the ensemble leap from rehearsing the very new to exploring the very old, as specialist early musicians joined them at NCEM to work through the details of pieces by Handel, Schmelzer, Monteverdi and Haydn. Cellist Tim Smedley and flautist Jenni Cohen worked alongside Justin Doyle to guide the talented young musicians through the finer points of phrasing, articulation and expression. The string section were also given the opportunity to try out baroque bows and to use these in performance.

The residency concluded on Tuesday 21 February with a vibrant performance from the ensemble, featuring a mix of early and contemporary repertoire, to entertain a full-house at the NCEM.

This project is delivered in collaboration with Sage Gateshead, building on previous work with Young Sinfonia and Folkestra, as part of their Young Musicians Programme