Some of the finest young people you could ever wish to meet

Some of the finest young people you could ever wish to meet


norman lebrecht

December 24, 2015

One of the highlights of my year was spending a summer afternoon and evening with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, working on Mahler’s ninth symphony. Alert, hungry, funny, courteous and tolerant of my bad jokes, these young musicians – few of whom may become adult professionals – represented everything one could wish for in citizens of the next generation.

They went on to give performances of the ninth symphony in London and Berlin at a standard that was above and beyond what we are led to believe of the Vienna Philharmonic in Mahler’s day.

I’d love you to meet these 163 young musicians, aged 11 to 19. Click on their profiles here.


And check out their next concerts:


Saturday, 2 January – Leeds Town Hall

Sunday, 3 January – Barbican, London

Monday, 4 January – BBC Radio 3 broadcast

NL with NYO



  • John Borstlap says:

    Wonderful & touching! So, there is hope.

    Only one caveat; Mahler IX? That is about death, Untergang, transdencence, the Last Things of the Soul. Not a bit dangerous for youngsters who are still at the treshold of life’s miseries?

    • Max Grimm says:

      With the frequently uttered stereotype of young musicians being technical magicians without the slightest idea of what the music is about, it wouldn’t be a concern.

    • Halldor says:

      Don’t you remember being a teenager? There’s no time in your life when you feel things more intensely, experience things more wholeheartedly, grapple more earnestly with the big questions. There’s no better time to engage with Mahler – who was no resigned, philosophical greybeard when he wrote this music but a passionate, ferociously intelligent middle-aged family man at the peak of his powers.

      Never, ever underestimate young musicians, or the commitment, freshness and insight of virtuoso players for whom this is one of the most important performances of their entire lives to date. How many members of, say, the VPO or Berlin Phil are encountering Mahler for the first time? These young artists are: music making doesn’t get any more urgent, more instinctive, more emotionally honest or more absolutely committed.

  • Heinrich says:

    Perhaps you’re being a tad too enthusiastic here? And no I will not “check” their profiles…..

  • David Boxwell says:

    Some of the greatest Mahler performances and recordings have been by student orchestras (i.e. Bashai’s 5th, Rattle’s 8th). Jaded, torpid professional musicians not allowed, OK?

  • Patrick says:

    “Some of the finest young people you could ever wish to meet”

    The very definition of a youth orchestra….around the globe!

  • John says:

    I agree with some of the later posters. Cranky and rather nasty and judging descriptions of performers and music that Borstlap, Heinrich, and Grimm (appropriate name!) doubtless weren’t there to hear with Norman. Fellows, let me advise you to find ENYO performing Mahler’s 8th with Simon Rattle from the Proms about ten years ago.

    Musicians like these make me positive about the future of the art. Thankfully, the people who can’t appreciate their talent and enthusiasm are few.

    • Max Grimm says:

      My dear John, I am happy to tell you that your assessment of my name’s appropriateness is incorrect on every level and that I was being facetious with my tongue firmly in my cheek, in response to the sizeable crowd on SD that believes genuine musical talent went extinct 50 years ago; if I really believed that young musicians didn’t understand a thing, I certainly wouldn’t have bothered inserting the word stereotype…..
      As it happens, I have been very fond of the NYOGB for years.