Festival music shines
This is the 17th festival in Edinburgh and the ninth in Glasgow. Most concerts will be heard in both cities with the exception of the Viotta Youth Orchestra from Holland on the opening night in Edinburgh and the Glasgow Schools Orchestra to be heard only at the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow on the last day.
Other visitors from overseas are the Calgary Fiddlers from Canada in an evening of Celtic, country, jazz and Cajun music. Among the most adventurous performers will be the Cambridge Youth Orchestra in three extracts from Wagner's Gotterdammerung, Hereford Schools Sinfonia with Panufnik's extraordinary Sinfonia Sacra, and the Nottingham Youth Orchestra whose taxing programme includes two virtuoso works by John Adams, Rachmaninov's Second Symphony and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Edinburgh soloist, Daniel Bell.
Two innovations will be the debut of the National Youth Choir of Scotland in Carl Orff's popular Carmina Burana, and the combination of dancers and instrumentalists in a new work by William Sweeney with the T S Eliot influenced title Sweeney Astray. For this event in Edinburgh, the Leicester Arts Youth Dance and Wind Band will perform in the spacious Royal Museum of Scotland.
The Strathclyde Schools Orchestra, Strathclyde Youth Jazz and Dunbarton Primary Schools Orchestra, all regular attenders in the past, have now dissolved. But the renamed Lothian Schools Orchestra will appear and the Lothian Schools Jazz Orchestra has a lunch-time engagement on August 24.
A recent development has been the increase in student-run orchestras from the universities of Southampton, Edinburgh and Glasgow - from next Easter, the National Association of Youth Orchestras will run a festival solely for student orchestras.
Considering the breadth of repertoire now available, it is surprising that several pieces are duplicated: Rimski-Korsakov's Scheherezade, the Elgar Cello Concerto, Rachmaninov's Second Symphony and Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 4, while there are three different performances of Shostakovich's Festival Overture, the New World Symphony and the hitherto little known December by Michael Torke.