Tees Valley Youth Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary Gala Concert – Recap

Tees Valley Youth Orchestra performed one of their largest and most ambitious concerts in its history on Sunday evening. After months of speculation and build up, the 50th Anniversary Gala Concert was here, with the event being held at the Sage Gateshead; one of the most prestigious arts and culture venues in the North East of England.

The concert started promptly at 7:30pm in the main auditorium. The audience contained a mixture of parents, wider family and friends, invited delegates and supporters of the Youth Orchestra.

A special commemorative 50th Anniversary programme was available to purchase from the Friends of Tees Valley Youth Orchestra, with all profits going towards the New York Tour. This programme included the names of every performer, a brief history of how TVYO formed and a message from Susan Robertson (TVMS General Manager) and Mark Douglas (Chairman of Friends of Tees Valley Youth Orchestra).

The doors to the auditorium opened and seats were quickly filled up as Tees Valley Alumni took to the stage to kick off the evening. Tees Valley Alumni are comprised of more than 100 former members of Tees Valley Youth Orchestra and it was a real treat to watch and hear them play as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations. Many of these members now are professional musicians with established musical careers who had traveled great distances to perform in the concert.

David Kendall lead Tees Valley Alumni on performances composed by Mussorgsky and Wagner.

They were joined on stage by David Kendall who was one of the earliest conductors to lead Tees Valley Youth Orchestra, then known as Cleveland Youth Orchestra, to start with Night on Bare Mountain by Mussorgsky as the first piece of the concert.

As a follow up they played Prelude – ‘Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg’  by Wagner. The atmosphere was electric as the technique and class of the performers was clearly on display.

Susan Robertson, TVMS General Manager, then welcomed Chris Ouvry-Jones to the stage. Like David Kendall, Mr Ouvry-Jones was another former conductor to Tees Valley Youth Orchestra and it was now his turn to conduct the Alumni Orchestra. The pieces he conducted were Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4.

The Alumni Orchestra, as well as their respective conductors, were given ovations by the audience following their performances. Then the concert was temporarily held for a 15 minute interval to give Tees Valley Youth Orchestra, who would be the main focus of the second half, time to set up on stage.

After everyone took their seat the concert resumed as Susan Robertson introduced TVYO and their current conductor, Nicholas Nowicki. TVYO’s major piece, Symphony No. 1 in D major by Mahler, lasted for 45 minutes. Each player displayed precision and dedication which was certainly no small feat. Over 130 members of the orchestra performed at the Sage Gateshead

Encores were given which saw David Kendall and Chris Ouvry-Jonesreturn to the stage and join Nicholas Nowicki to conduct once more. This time they performed Les Toreadors by Bizet, Slavonic Dance No. 8 by Dvorak and The Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa to finish out the concert.

Tees Valley Youth Orchestra took a bow for their performance as the audience gave them a standing ovation.

The audience reaction was overwhelmingly supportive as one audience member said as they were leaving the concert hall: “That was the best performance TVYO have ever gave and certainly one of the best concerts I’ve been to.”

A parent to one orchestra member had this to say: “The amount of time and commitment that these young people have given to their music is inspirational and I’m proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Now, TVYO look ahead to New York as on Thursday 11th July 2019 (8:30pm local time) the Youth Orchestra will be performing a full-length concert at the world-famous Carnegie Hall. And if this Gala Concert is anything to go by, we are in for something very special indeed.