After an extremely successful first evening, the Royal Albert Hall is once again full of energy as we look forward to the 2nd night of the Music for Youth Proms on Wednesday 16th of November 2022.
It quickly became clear that this evening had a completely different character to yesterday, as the young musicians from Musica Youth Strings filed onto the stage with grace and a clear ability to handle themselves as professionals on the concert stage.
The concert began Sedgehill Academy Rap Collective and the Girls Rap Collective and wow did they take the room. With a combination of arrangements and original compositions, the young people were a fabulous example of why every young person deserves a chance on this stage. With orchestras and organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra getting the chance to place at the proms, musicians such as these young rappers would never get the chance to showcase their incredible talents, yet again highlighting the need for organisations such as Music for Youth.
Suddenly we are whisked back to the wonderful professionalism of the Musica Youth Strings, an ensemble in the same family as Musica Youth Orchestra that we watched yesterday evening, The young musicians were clearly driven by music and the audience was pulled into their world, like a magical bubble in which the developing musicians are allowed to show off their incredible hard work and enjoy performing with each other. At the end of their performance, two wonderful soloists played with the orchestra, and they were absolutely astonishing. Their confidence to stand up and play a solo in the Royal Albert Hall is a significant achievement, never mind the display of talent, evidence of their hard work, and the commitment of their teachers.
We are joined again this evening by Remel London and Rachel Broderick, and the new CEO, who shared his thoughts of the proms so far as being ‘spectacular’. The wonderfully enthusiastic presenters shared the new mission of Music for Youth, focused on the fact that young people make incredible music and so far, tonight, the musicians on stage have been a perfect example of this.
Next on stage is the Cantilena from the Abbey Junior School and they were so disciplined in how they walked on stage and stood still awaiting their turn. The young 6–8-year-olds impressed us with their two-part singing and their clear enunciation and musicianship and they were clearly in complete awe of the venue. It was incredibly inspirational to hear the pure enjoyment in the young singers, a reminder of why we all make music.
A reminder again of last night’s exceptional playing from the Bishop Stopford School Brass Band, we are now joined on stage by the Gwent Youth Brass Ensemble who played 3 Brass Dances and filled the hall with vibrant sounds, reminiscent of the Welsh Brass Band tradition were I’m sure a few of these young musicians have already found their place.
Next, the audience was drawn in to the sensitive world of the LPMAM Student Ensemble with the wonderful Stefania Passamonte who has done, and continues to do, inspirational work in supporting young musicians from Ukraine to make their way to the UK to continue their music studies and their performance definitely tugged on the heart strings of the audience. The performance showed an incredible level of bravery and commitment to music from the musicians who have already experienced things most of us cannot even imagine. Their performance was stunning and the entire hall was silent with awe at their achievements. I hope every musician on that stage had a wonderful time and continues using music as a creative outlet for all they must be feeling. As Stefania shared with us, “this is an incredible opportunity…they feel a big responsibility to keep their country alive through music”.
We returned to the incredible opportunities Music for Youth provides with another frequencies artist, No Trixx. We saw a wonderful combination of rapping and instrumental talent on drums, guitar and violin – a true reminder that every young child should have the chance to learn an instrument, and that expression happens in many different ways. The band was confident and had wonderful on-stage communication, a reminder of the wonderful transferrable skills that can be developed through music.
Whisked back to the world of brass, up next is Mountbatten Big Band who displayed their tight ensemble skills and where we saw a real mixture of abilities blend together, presenting invaluable learning opportunities for all musicians on stage. Their sound absolutely filled the Royal Albert Hall and was a fabulous reminder that ‘young people make great music’. The trombone and saxophone soloists were full of confidence and musicianship, skills that can only be learned through dedication from the musician and teachers, as well as a lot of hard work – truly testament to the character of these young people. A fantastic end to the first half of this evening's concert.
Starting off the second half with fireworks, was the Lincolnshire Massed Ensemble and gosh did they take our breath away. With everyone from age 8 to 21, the Royal Albert Hall was filled with energy, and the soloists were confident and provided the audience with first-rate entertainment. An incredible display of enjoyment and enthusiasm, the audience was a display of cheesy smiles as we enjoyed some Beyonce complete with choreography.
Following the incredible show of the massed ensemble, we are brought back into a much more intimate setting of Chris and Baaba – a duo from London. A special atmosphere between the two musicians, they performed We Won’t Move and Clown, and the entire audience was taken into the palm of their hands while they performed.
Sticking with a vocal theme for a little longer, the Northamptonshire County Youth Choir took to the stage. They performed with confident young voices, and well executed part singing. Their performance was atmospheric and there was a strong sense of communication between the choir and their directors. It was another wonderful reminder that music can be made to the highest level without instruments and orchestras – every young child should be given the chance to sing with others.
A contrasting return to Jazz, keeping the audience on their feet, we are joined by the York Music Forum Youth Jazz Ensemble and the young musicians seemed incredibly confident on the overwhelmingly large Royal Albert Hall stage, and their strong ensemble left no doubt in the audience’s mind that this would be another exceptional performance this evening. The soloists displayed talent and dedication and it was exceptional to see them express themselves in a language that evidently felt like second nature. This was a clear reminder of the mental well-being benefits music offers by providing an outlet for young musicians.
Reminding the audience once again of the optimistic future of orchestras, City of Belfast Youth Orchestra join us on stage with an incredibly well-executed performance of Overture to Zampa, which they played with enthusiasm and skillful musicianship. It has been incredibly inspiring to see such a large level of diversity over the past two evenings, and is incredibly refreshing to see young musicians still enthusiastically enjoying classical music amongst everything else. With so many well-rounded musicians, it has been wonderful seeing how every young person can find their voice within music.
A sudden contrast again, The Spit Game join us on the stage. Presenting themselves as representing the black culture of London, these young people showed their culture and identity with energy and enthusiasm at every stage. As some musicology scholars begin to question the elitism of the western classical music canon – I look with a huge amount of optimism to a future where the wonderful diversity of the Music for Youth Proms is discussed.
As with yesterday evening, the finale was Back Together, run by creative leaders Adey Grummet and Michael Henry. Without the snippets throughout the concert as we had yesterday evening, there was less audience involvement – however, it was lovely to see the piece performed by so many young musicians who were obviously thrilled to be able to perform together again. The Finale, along with the confetti canons were a truly magical end to a spectacular two days filled with youth music making.