A Homecoming for Cellist in 'World's No.1 Teen Orchestra' Warwickshire Youngster George Wilkes Is Travelling the Country with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He Talks to DAVE FREAK Ahead of a Concert in His Home County

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), December 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

A Homecoming for Cellist in 'World's No.1 Teen Orchestra' Warwickshire Youngster George Wilkes Is Travelling the Country with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He Talks to DAVE FREAK Ahead of a Concert in His Home County


Byline: DAVE FREAK

ALTHOUGH his instrument of choice is the cello, young musician George Wilkes was surprised to discover his forthcoming orchestral appearance at Coventry's Warwick Arts Centre (January 4) requires him to simply clap!

Under the title State Of Flux, The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (NYO), led by Russian conductor Kirill Karabits (from Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra), perform a programme of works that are (loosely) out of this world. Among these are Rick Dior's B-movie inspired Science Fiction.

"I was surprised to open my part and see that in fact I would not be playing the cello but clapping and singing," says George of the piece, originally written for 13 percussionists, but now re-orchestrated by the composer especially for the NYO.

However, George will be reunited with his trusty cello for two other concert pieces: John Adams' Doctor Atomic and Jean Sibelius' epic Symphony No.2. "Doctor Atomic is probably the piece I am most excited to play out of the three," he says of the work inspired by physicist Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project. "It is comprised of music from the opera of the same name (and) it describes the creation of, and potential nuclear holocaust created by, the atomic bomb. As you can imagine the piece is exhilarating and terrifying both to place and listen to, and ridiculously difficult, technically.

"Finally Sibelius' Symphony No.2 is exciting for me as it is the first symphony that I will be performing with the NYO. It is such a massive work and the intensity of colours and emotions conveyed within it make the piece extremely captivating to listen to."

Hailing from Shipston-on-Stour, south Warwickshire, the now 17-year-old George began playing cello at the age of six. From there, he joined the National Children's Orchestra and at 11 he earned a music scholarship to Warwick School, where he's currently in his final year of Sixth Form.

Alongside his studies, he's also been attending Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for four years, and has been a member of the NYO (described as the ''world's greatest teenage orchestra'') since 2017.

"They have both enabled me to grow as a musician and develop my playing," he says of the organisations. "At Birmingham Conservatoire I have my lessons as well playing in multiple chamber groups and orchestras. Although I have not been in NYO long I have particularly enjoyed performing within such a large orchestra. …

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