When tonight’s conductor, the prodigiously talented Jonathon Heyward, was asked about how he put together this programme his answer was simple: ‘There’s been a recurring theme across the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain’s activities this year, which has been the idea of hope.’ Certainly that is born out in Beethoven’s mighty ‘Eroica’ Symphony, in which darkness and struggle are overcome in the most spirited manner. Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto is full of songful melody and irresistibly catchy rhythms in the finale. Tonight’s soloist is one of the orchestra’s Ambassadors, Nicola Benedetti.
Interspersed with established masterpieces are two works receiving their London premieres. Laura Jurd’s CHANT explores the potency of improvisation, with the musicians given the freedom but also the responsibility of creating music in the moment. Banner, by the American composer Jessie Montgomery, explores the idea of an anthem for the 21st century, a big question to which she responds with powerful music.