Young musicians show off honed orchestral skills in exciting summer concert

The NZSO National Youth Orchestra is gearing up for an exciting Summer Residency in February 2013.

Its talented young musicians will present a challenging and eclectic programme including Brahms’ momentous Symphony No. 2 Op. 73 in D Major; smaller works which show off the strengths of each orchestral section by Grieg, Strauss and Arnold; and the world premiere of young composer Sarah Ballard – winner of the prestigious 2012 NZSO Todd Corporation Young Composers Awards.

Ballard was keen to add her unique compositional style to the concert programme. Her new work is for trumpet, trombone, bass trombone and timpani. This unique instrumentation is the result of discovering that these instruments did not feature in any of the previous three programmed works – Grieg’s Two Norwegian Airs, Strauss’ Serenade for Winds or Arnold’s Brass Quintet 1.  The ‘leftover’ instruments were assigned to Ballard who will work her magic to create a new piece especially for the Summer Residency.

“This piece will be geared toward experimenting with sounds in themselves, as opposed to attempting to depict an extrinsic concept musically,” says Ballard. “The instrumentation, although specific, is unique, which gives me a lot of freedom as to how I choose to musically treat the ensemble. There is no accessible repertoire that matches this instrumentation precisely to derive ideas from, so in preparation for writing the piece I have been listening to solo repertoire of each of the instruments, orchestral parts, and brass quintets.

“My primary aim is to give each player something they really enjoy playing, so I will compose each line using the most resounding parts of their range and ensure that each player has a prominent moment within the piece.”

Taking them through their paces will be Kiwi conductor and composer Kenneth Young, who has a long association with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra having played in it himself as Principal Tuba from 1974-75. Young is also an established composer in his own right and was commissioned by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra to write Portrait as part of the popular Carmen Suite national concert tour performed by the NZSO in March.

The 2013 NZSO National Youth Orchestra includes a diverse group of musicians who auditioned for their spot earlier this year and performed in the September residency in Christchurch. A total of 144 musicians from all around New Zealand applied for a position in the Orchestra, which celebrates its 54th year in 2013.

The NZSO National Youth Orchestra is grateful for support from the Adam Foundation and Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts.