I hopped on a bus at Perth last Thursday along with an army of PYO supporters (and some members of the orchestra). Our destination? Edinburgh, of course, to see Perth Youth Orchestra in action at its Fringe Festival debut. Although excited to listen in on the Youth Orchestra's first concert since its trip to Florence, I couldn't help but fall asleep on the bus. I don't tend to mix well with vehicles of any kind, though I have to say, falling asleep is generally more agreeable than being violently travel sick...but enough about me.
We arrived (somewhat groggily) in Edinburgh among the Fringe ruckus and hurried towards Greyfriars Kirk, just in time to hear the end of PYO's first piece of the night, Jig: Vivace - from the infamous St Paul's Suite. After fidgeting in the wings, waiting for the piece to finish, we hurried to take our places in the Kirk Hall.
The St Paul's Suite was followed by a trumpet concerto composed by Alexander Aruturian, performed brilliantly by Magnus Pickering. I might say this in just about every review I write up about PYO, but the orchestra sounded brilliant. And I really mean it. I think it came down to a combination of skill and enthusiasm (on part of the orchestra and conductor Mr Allan Young) and the amazing acoustics of the Kirk, which left the pieces sounding crisp and clear.
Interval time: food ticket paid for, I grabbed a cup of orange squash and scarfed as many custard creams as I could...
After much scoffing of biscuits and beverages the audience returned to their seats to listen to Merran Kay's wonderful performance of Kol Nidrei on cello. Then the orchestra moved on to play the roaring beast that is Robert Smith's Inferno - as you can probably tell, it was my favourite piece of the night by far. I say this not because the other pieces were lacking in any way (because they weren't) but because the way Inferno was performed nearly threw me off my chair. The evening's performance concluded with a rendition of Salute to the Cinema and Les Miserables.
As we travelled back to Perth, I couldn't help thinking that it would definitely be worthwhile for PYO to continue performing as part of the Fringe. I hold high hopes that they can build a larger audience, not just made up of the relatives of orchestra members, but of people who might not know the first thing about PYO except where and when they'll be playing. Or, perhaps, even better, people who have heard about PYO through the grape vine and are interesting in finding out for themselves just how good they are.