Premiere at The Proms

Elaine Agnew pictured at The Dark Hedges. INLT 30-609-CON
Elaine Agnew pictured at The Dark Hedges. INLT 30-609-CON

LARNE-born composer Elaine Agnew’s latest work is to be premièred at the world’s biggest classical music festival, the BBC Proms in London.

Sir James Galway will take the stage at the Royal Albert Hall with the Ulster Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra combined to perform Dark Hedges – Elaine’s piece for double orchestra and solo flute, inspired by the avenue of 300-year-old beech trees planted near Armoy in 1750.

Proms organisers this year invited the national youth orchestras of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to perform with their “big brothers and sisters” over the course of the first weekend in August.

Dark Hedges debuts on Saturday, August 4, at the end of weeks of rehearsals. The prestigious event will see the two ensembles combine to make a super-orchestra of 150-plus players.

“I’m not only excited about having a piece performed at the Royal Albert Hall,” said Elaine, from Kilwaughter. “The fact that Dark Hedges is receiving its première adds so much more to the occasion.

“Working with the fantastic Ulster Orchestra, Ulster Youth Orchestra, Sir James Galway and the Ulster Orchestra’s new principal conductor, JoAnn Falletta, with over 150 musicians all on stage couldn’t make it any more special,” she added.

The combined orchestras will end the concert with Stravinsky’s Firebird (1911 version).

David Openshaw, the Ulster Orchestra’s timpanist and longest serving player, is looking forward to performing again Sir James Galway at The Proms. “We play live to around 100,000 people giving between 80 to 90 concerts each year, but a Proms concert is always special,” he said.

“While this is our eleventh visit to the Proms since our début in 1985, JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Youth Orchestra will be making their first appearances this time round. The fact that we will be giving a world première of a new work with Jimmy Galway, who makes his first appearance at a Prom in a decade, will make for a very special day, especially for the younger players and some of my colleagues who haven’t yet done a Prom yet.”

The Ulster Youth Orchestra will open the concert with a performance of Chabrier’s Espana, followed by the Ulster Orchestra and Sir James Galway giving a performance of Mozart’s famous Flute Concerto in D.