The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYOGB) put on an amazing show to a (nearly) sold-out Royal Albert Hall. Unless we look up at the rows of adolescent and pre-pubescent faces, we completely forget that this is a part-time, non-profit orchestra made up of children. Were there tuning issues in moments of unaccompanied woodwind? Moments of insecure pianissimo bowing? No more than any adult, professional, full-time orchestra.

The main event was Ravel’s mighty ballet Daphnis et Chloé (1912), heard here in concert and unabridged. Conducted by guest Andrew Gourlay (40 years old), we got every second of drama without the need for any visuals: pirates, fairies, and lovers abounding in full orchestral glory, with ten percussionists and four harps(!).

In the first half, guest pianist American Simone Dinnerstein (49 years old) gave an effortless, off-book performance of Gershwin’s mini-masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue (1924). The orchestra offered a contrasting accompaniment that was effortful in all the right places, including a wildly cartoonish trumpet solo (Sam Balchin).

Opening the Prom was the premiere of Danny Elfman’s Wunderkammer (2022), commissioned specifically for the NYOGB. The (dare one say) kiddyish-sounding work did little other than to lengthen an already lengthy Prom, at nearly three hours, with a semi-improvised Gershwin encore for the first half, and a second-half encore of a brass ensemble up in the gallery. Isn’t it already past their bedtime?

Tickets for all 72 Proms are available from just £7.12 on the BBC Proms 2022 website.

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