We have spent the last couple of weeks BASKING in the radiant glow of kind words about our late-night BBC Prom on Thursday 16 August. Thank you to everyone who came along, thank you for listening on the radio, thank you for all your feedback (both positive and constructive) and thank you THANK YOU for all your support.
We were honoured that the BBC trusted NYJO with such a demanding programme, a real testament to NYJO’s reputation for excellence. Many of the below reviews refer to the unrelenting difficulty of West Side Story, and our musicians in the trumpet section will be the first to attest to this (the technical term, in the brass world, is “a smack in the chops”). Rhapsody in Blue and Laura Jurd’s premiere of The Earth Keeps Spinning were not only challenging within themselves but also required immense flexibility from our musicians to be able to switch seemingly effortlessly between styles.
Artistic Director Mark Armstrong and Orchestra Manager Roger Wilson worked tirelessly all summer to prepare the concert. Expanded forces were required for the Bernstein and Gershwin – four french horns, a string section, Eb clarinet, and bass sax & tuba beefing up the bottom end, with all the attendant marshalling of musicians, parts, instrument hire and rehearsals. Thanks also to band member Chris Valentine for his help copying new parts for the Bernstein.
The musicians were magnificent. For many this was the biggest gig of their careers so far – and they rose to the occasion with a world-class professionalism of which the most experienced ensemble could be proud.
Press response to our Prom can only be described as EXUBERANT!
The Times said: “The opening of the West Side Story suite, trumpets and trombones flashing knives at each other, could not have been more exhilarating. Six decades ago, Kenton’s musicians struggled with the demands of the score; it’s a testament to the NYJO ethos that the band made the calisthenics look so effortless.” 4 Stars
Read Full Review (paywall)
The Guardian said: “[West Side Story is] a fiendishly difficult suite, which Kenton never attempted live, and lurches from spy-movie swing to fiery Afro-Cuban beats, but NYJO’s young soloists swagger expertly through its tricksy bombast. An encore of St Louis Blues sees the orchestra back on home turf, but tonight’s programme suggests that they’re even better on unfamiliar ground.” 4 Stars
Read Full Review
London Jazz News said: “Rhapsody in Blue was a thrilling ride. The band accompanied sensitively with the addition of a well led violin section, never overpowering Grosvenor, but opening up when the theme was passed to them.”
Read Full Review
Classical Source said: “The National Youth Jazz Orchestra proceeded to set the Royal Albert Hall ablaze with a high-octane programme of music either unfamiliar or given in unfamiliar guises – rendered with precision and panache. Bernstein, not easy to please in such matters, must surely have approved.“
Read Full Review
Music OMH said: “NYJO (conducted by Guy Barker) turned in a cracking performance that was nuanced, yet clearly enjoyable to play” 4 Stars
VIEW FROM THE WEB
In addition to our press reviews, Social Media gave us the opportunity to get audience reaction, both from some familiar faces and fans we didn’t know we had.
Poet Ian McMillan on Twitter: “fantastic @bbcproms with @NYJOuk; a world premiere by @LauraJurd plus Gershwin and Bernstein to groove my morning”
Singer/Songwriter/Saxophonist Curtis Stigers on Twitter: “The @NYJOuk are a great band!”
Saxophonist and Composer Tim Garland on facebook: “Stunning prom concert last night! Warmest congrats to Mark Armstrong and the team. Wicked solo spots from everyone, you guys keep raising the bar, you are all rather brilliant!”
Music Critic Adrian Pallant on Twitter: “This sounded WONDERFUL, live”
Roger Newman MBE on twitter: “@NYJOuk Totally brilliant Prom. The ‘Stan Kenton’ was outstanding. Thanks”
Thanks to BBC/Chris Christodoulou for the wonderful photography.