Michael McHale and UYO Alumni in Concert
On Saturday the 29th December 2018 UYO Alumnus and now patron Michael McHale took to the Ulster Hall stage accompanied by an orchestra of around 90 UYO Alumni from the past 25 years of UYO. The Orchestra was led by Joanne Quigley McParland who played in the very first UYO course back in 1994, and conducted by Paul McCusker who played violin in the orchestra for several years. This concert was a chance to celebrate the orchestra’s 25th anniversary while reconnecting players from every year and bringing them together to showcase the incredible talent we have here in Northern Ireland.
This concert was a showcase indeed as Michael McHale took to the stage to perform Prokofiev’s fiendishly difficult third piano concerto which was met with extended rapturous applause. This was no mean feat with the orchestra having had a total of six and a half hours to rehearse the concert programme which continued with Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. This was a fitting end to the concert and very well received by the Belfast audience and reviewer Leighton Jones who had the following to say about the concert.
“Over the past 25 years, the Ulster Youth Orchestra has nurtured the youthful talents of a number of instrumentalists from across Northern Ireland who have forged careers as international soloists, orchestral musicians or highly prolific teachers. In a celebratory evening, players from each year of the UYO’s existence came together to give a memorable concert of core Russian repertoire..
This was a memorable concert for three reasons: firstly, the quality of the playing from the woodwinds and strings was exceptional; secondly McHale’s dexterity and agility in the Prokofiev, and thirdly — but most importantly of all, what these unpaid players — who were a mix of seasoned professionals, students and highly accomplished amateurs, did on a single rehearsal. There was a sense all evening this was music-making with friends old and new and demonstrates why youth orchestras are as important as ever. These alumni were a real testament to talents of Northern Ireland along with the opportunities the UYO has given them, an admirable way to mark their milestone.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the musicians who performed on stage and gave up their time and talents in support of UYO. It really is testament to the lasting impact of UYO on young musicians that we were able to get such a fantastic orchestra together for this momentous occasion and bring our 25th Anniversary year to a close in style.
If you are UYO Alumni and would like to keep in touch or make a donation to support our future work you can visit our Alumni page here.