Review: City of Leeds Youth Orchestra ****

At Leeds Town Hall

THIS vigorous youth orchestra of over 90 players, all under 19 years of age, always presents the most enterprising concerts and, under the direction of their principal conductor Douglas Scarfe, maintain a high standard of disciplined and polished playing and unmistakable enthusiasm.

With scores as challenging as Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story which demands such rhythmic vitality and vigilance, and the rich sonorities required to make Samuel Barber's Adagio for strings work well, Leeds has every reason to be proud of these young musicians who succeeded in achieving all that was required. Walton's Viola Concerto is a rarity indeed, and although soloist Alex Mitchell began rather nervously, he soon overcame any uncertainty and gave a confident performance. The highlight was the witty fleeting scherzo at the centre of the piece. Alex is principal viola and has his own string ensemble drawn from the Orchestra, giving concerts throughout the region. This exciting concert opened with an energetic performance of Walton's Spitfire Prelude and Fugue – just right for these skilful players.

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