With its 164 musicians, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYOGB) can call itself the world’s largest youth orchestra. In addition, it is one of the oldest: since its founding in 1948 it has given more than 550 concerts involving about 5000 highly talented musicians. Some of them went on to great careers: the current Artistic Director, Sir Mark Elder (a former bassoonist), as well as the Berlin Philharmonic’s chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle (a percussionist) and the composer Judith Weir (an oboist). The musicians, aged 13 to 19, hail from all over the United Kingdom; annual auditions ensure that the orchestra has a constant stream of new and enlivening impulses. The repertoire concentrates on large-scale symphonic works by Mahler, Elgar and Strauss, all the way to Bartók, Lutoslawski and Thomas Adès. The NYOGB’s special position is emphasized not only by its annual concert at the BBC Proms in London; in 2014 the orchestra also participated in the 60-year jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. Through the trend-setting programme “NYO Inspire”, the orchestra members aim to pass on their own skills and experience to other young musicians.
Alexander von Schönburg-Glauchau may have been born in Mogadishu (Somalia) in 1969, but went to school in Munich, where he was quickly “corrupted”, as he says himself: even as a high school student, he began his career as a journalist, writing about youth topics for the Münchner Merkur, then working as a reporter for the German edition of Esquire magazine. Even before graduating, he transferred to a school in England, where he then also studied history, leading to a severe case of Anglophilia. Very befittingly: by marriage, the head of the Schönburg family and brother of Gloria von Thurn und Taxis is also a great-nephew of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and thus of the Queen herself! He also developed the ability “to write about lighthearted things seriously and lightheartedly about serious matters”, leading to a highly diverse career in journalism and as a book author. He was editor at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, chief editor at the magazine Park Avenue and has been a member of the editorial board of BILD since 2009. His books, for example Everything You’ve always Wanted to Know about Kings but never Dared to Ask (2008) and his most recent work, Small Talk (2015) made it onto the German bestseller lists.
The British conductor Sir Mark Elder, knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2008, has been among the outstanding conductors of the United Kingdom for many years. He made a name for himself as an opera conductor as early as the 1980s, when he was at the helm of the English National Opera together with Peter Jonas. Since 2000 Elder has been chief conductor of the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester, with which he has realised numerous CD productions and appeared regularly at the BBC Proms in London. Invitations have taken him to all the important opera houses in Europe and the USA; in 1981 Elder became the first Englishman to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg). Together with Barrie Gavin, he produced a film about the life and work of Giuseppe Verdi for the BBC in 1994; this was followed by a film about Gaetano Donizetti for German TV in 1996. The 67-year-old has recorded even unknown Donizetti operas like Dom Sebastien and Linda di Chamounix. Elder is also a popular guest on TV: for example, he presented a multi-part series entitled Maestro at the Opera for the BBC in 2012.
«Re-greening» (2015, German Premiere)
Symphony No. 9 D-Major (1910)
Founded in 1948, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain is considered the world’s oldest national youth orchestra, and finally it makes its debut at Young Euro Classic. The young British musicians have a highly ambitious programme to present: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. Composed just one year before his death, it summarises Mahler’s symphonic oeuvre like no other work. It is a work of farewell that also points the way forward into modernism. And it offers one of the most touching slow movements in all of orchestral literature. To this end, the Ninth requires a huge orchestra, to whom it offers an opportunity to prove every ounce of its mettle and quality. An outstanding interpretation is guaranteed by the British conductor Sir Mark Elder, who has been one of the British Islands’ most distinguished musical personalities for many decades. Under his conducting, the orchestra will also present a brand-new work of the young and upcoming composer Tansy Davies, whose style is consciously open towards the avant-garde, including techno and electronic sounds as well.