Classical review: National Youth Choir of Scotland, Usher Hall

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The NYCoS has supported many international stars at the festival, but this was their first concert in their own right.

National Youth Choir of Scotland, Usher Hall (****)

They began with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs featuring baritone Andrew McTaggart. He clearly articulated George Herbert’s devotional poems against the backdrop of Michael Bawtree’s gorgeous organ accompaniment. However, we had to wait until the final antiphon to hear the NYCoS in all their glory. Apart from a few passages of hummed accompaniment, the choir weren’t singing for the best part of 15 minutes.

When they got the stage to themselves, their superb a cappella set knocked our socks off. Artistic director Christopher Bell demands, and gets, the best out of these amazing young voices. They showed off their full-bodied textures in Five Spirituals from Tippett’s A Child of our Time and articulate dynamic attack in Musgrave’s delightfully subversive On the Underground Set 2.

These 120 young singers beautifully captured the depths of emotion in Eric Whitacre’s cantata When David Heard, which describes King David’s grief at the news of Absalom’s death. The way the choir upped the volume and intensity of ‘My son, my son’ was sensational.