June 2017

National Youth Harp Orchestra premiere Patrick Hawes’ St George & The Dragon

The National Youth Harp Orchestra is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a new commission for its 30 young players from composer Patrick Hawes.

St George and the Dragon will be premiered on Saturday 16 September 2017 at 19:30 at St James’s Piccadilly.

Luisa Cordell founded the NYHO in 2002 with just eight young harpists from Surrey. It grew rapidly, and annual auditions are now held in the autumn for young players in the main and training orchestras. Cordell speaks enthusiastically of the collaboration with Hawes, whose music she admires.

“Since Debussy’s Danses Sacrée et profane, there hasn’t been another piece of music for solo harp and chamber string orchestra, in my opinion, that was written so idiomatically, poetically and charismatically than Patrick Hawes’ Highgrove Suite,” she says. “To celebrate the NYHO 15th anniversary, he was the perfect choice as composer of a new suite for harps. Once again, he has written impressively for the instrument(s), showing them off to their best, and our young players are very excited to be performing the work, which we hope to record soon too.”

Hawes is an English composer who has made his mark as a torchbearer of the English musical tradition, who’s Highgrove Suite evolved from a harp commission from HRH Prince Charles 60th birthday. Clearly delighted to be working with an instrument he loves, he says “during our initial discussions, we were all taken with the idea of a piece about St George and the Dragon. The story provides such a great basis for a piece of music; not only is there the battle between the dragon and St George but also the gentle princess, the backdrop of a shimmering lake and a final hymn of victory. An orchestra of harps can portray all of these things in a powerful and emotive way and I am delighted that the premiere of this new piece is to be performed by the NYHO under the able direction of Luisa Cordell.”

St George and the Dragon will be performed in the anniversary concert demonstrating the breadth of music that the orchestra covers, including excerpts from Russian Doll, a symphony for harp written by NYHO player Heather Brooks, who studies at The Purcell School. Brooks will be joined by flautist Alexander Blinko, also a student at The Purcell School, in the first movement from the Sonata for Flute and Harp by Jean-Michel Damase.

St George & Dragon Poster

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