Youth music

The Festival of British Youth Orchestras has been a staple of the Fringe music programme for 27 years now, while its Glasgow offshoot is now in its 19th incarnation.

Both events will open in unconventional fashion this year with a concert by Samyo, the South Asian Music Youth Orchestra. The orchestra draws on players from across the UK, mostly in the 13-18 age range, and plays a combination of music from both the north (Hindustani) and south (Carnatic) Indian traditions with contemporary works.

They will perform in costume, and should be a striking visual as well as aural experience. Indian music is usually performed by small ensembles of five or six, making the 20-strong Samyo unique, not only in the UK, but within this tradition.

It is the first time that the festival has hosted a non-Western music ensemble, but administrator Susan White hopes it will be a portent of things to come.

"Samyo has been a member of our parent body, the National Association of Youth Orchestras, for a few years now and we see it as a flagship orchestra in its field. Nayo is looking to diversify membership by recruiting more groups from non-Western music traditions. So we hope to have more of that at the festival in future."

The programme features 48 concerts divided evenly between Edinburgh and Glasgow, compared to 54 last year, but there is plenty of interest on offer.

Perth Symphony Orchestra maintains its record as the only group to have performed at every Edinburgh festival, and also visits Glasgow this year.

In addition to Samyo, other newcomers include the Junior Trinity Symphony Orchestra from Trinity College in London and the Manchester Youth String Orchestra.

North Ayrshire Schools Symphony Orchestra follows the example set by the region's schools choir last year and both will perform in Glasgow.

A collaboration between the combined schools symphonies of East Renfrewshire and Orkney, facilitated by the Youth Music Initiative funding from the Scottish Arts Council, may point a way forward for others.

As usual, new music will feature in some programmes. Junior Trinity will perform a piece by one of its members, uncan Ward, who won the BBC Young Composer Competition in 2005, and a choir from Wales, Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion, will perform a new song cycle based on the tales of the Mabinogi from the Welsh national epic.

Scott Lygate, a clarinettist who first came to attention with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, will perform Weber's Clarinet Concerto with the renamed RSAMD YouthWorks Music Orchestra, while Emma Lloyd will be the soloist in the Edinburgh Secondary Schools Orchestra's performance of Saint-Saens' Organ Concerto in the closing concert in Edinburgh.

The music of Shostakovitch will feature in several programmes in recognition of the centenary of his birth, while the National Youth Choir of Scotland celebrates its 10th anniversary with a concert featuring both its training choir and the changed voices section of its boys' choir, and a new song book featuring commissioned work by Scottish composers.

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