Ulster Youth Orchestra to celebrate 25th anniversary at Ulster Hall

The Ulster Youth Orchestra is celebrating its 25th birthday this month 
Gail Bell

THE Ulster Youth Orchestra marks its 25th anniversary this month with a grand tour to Austria and Slovakia before a glittering final concert at the Ulster Hall next Saturday.

Regarded as one of the jewels in the crown of the north's arts scene, the UYO musicians will be giving public concerts at the Museums Quartier in Vienna on August 21 and the Slovak Radio Hall, Bratislava, on August 22 following a summer residential course at Greenmount College, Antrim.

Following rigorous competitive auditions, 91 of Northern Ireland's most talented young orchestral players were selected for the annual course ahead of their five-day tour which will include a day exploring Mozart's home town of Salzburg.

Paula Klein, UYO general manager, said the musicians were "thrilled" to be able to mark the special anniversary with the three concerts in Vienna, Bratislava and Belfast.

"We are grateful for the substantial funding we receive from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support our work, alongside all of the other trusts and foundations, corporate sponsors and private donors who have made this significant celebration possible," she said.

"The UYO staff and board have worked tirelessly this year to ensure these talented young musicians get the recognition and cultural experience that they deserve and we can’t wait to get started."

Guest conductor for the concerts will be Courtney Lewis, a former pupil of Royal Belfast Academical Institution and current music director of the Jacksonville Symphony in the US, with special guests including Belfast soprano Aoife Miskelly and clarinetist William Curran, also from Belfast.

A wide-ranging repertoire features music from Bernstein, Debussy and Gershwin, alongside Hillsborough’s Hamilton Harty (who wrote The Children of Lir in 1938) and Irish composer Ryan Molloy who studied at Queen's University, Belfast, and has composed a new work, Ogham, especially for this milestone year.

The gala finale in the Ulster Hall takes place on Saturday August 25, starting at 7.45pm; tickets (£16.50, concession £6) are available from the Ulster Hall box office on the night, by phone on 028 9033 4455  or via

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