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Eleanor performs with the Barbican Young Orchestra

Monday 30 June 2014
This summer, Eleanor Grant (Year 9) had the privilege of playing with the Barbican Young Orchestra at the new Milton Court concert hall on the opening day of the City of London Festival.  

In order to play with the BYO, a minimum of grade 6 standard is required and entry is by audition. I first worked with the orchestra in 2011 and was pleased to be invited back this year to play an exciting programme of demanding music. Some of my friends from the Junior Academy (Royal Academy of Music), where I study on Saturdays, were also taking part.  

Rehearsals began at the beginning of May with five or six hours of rehearsal every day, leading up to the performance on 22 June 2014. The repertoire was very difficult: The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky, William Walton’s Cello Concerto and Finlandia by Sibellius. On the first day of rehearsals, I worried that I would not be able to play the pieces, but over the weeks it became easier. I was one of four double bass players. The two young men either side of me were full time students at the Royal College of Music, so I had a lot to live up to. Once again I was the youngest player and the only girl, so I felt I had to work my hardest to keep up the good standard.  

Eleanor with conductor Edward Gardner

The concert was conducted by Edward Gardner. I felt very lucky to be working with such an inspiring world class musician. He demanded a high level of professionalism from us but I think he got the best from us all. The weeks of intensive rehearsals really paid off! A particular highlight was hearing the amazing cello soloist, 23-year-old Michael Petrov, who this year won the Guildhall School of Music’s prestigious gold medal.  

The concert was sold out and the audience were attentive and appreciative. Afterwards there was a reception, where speeches were given by Sir Nicholas Kenyon, Managing Director of the Barbican Centre, and our conductor Edward Gardner, who congratulated the Barbican Young Orchestra on a wonderful performance.