The National Youth Choir and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at Prom 30, August 2017. Image: NYCGB


The National Youth Choir's return to the BBC Proms was a hit with the audience - and the critics.

The 150-strong ensemble appeared in the second half of the concert to give the Proms premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's rarely-heard 'Seven, they are Seven' with tenor David Butt Philip, followed by William Walton's 'Belshazzar's Feast' with bass-baritone James Rutherford. 

For anyone who mainly associates Prokofiev with his cheery 'Troika', the apocalyptic sounds of 'Seven' will have come as a shock: "a ten-minute onslaught of choral and orchestral shouting and snarling", according to The Times. But enjoyed "the terrific din, much of it made by the excellent National Youth Choir of Great Britain."

William Walton's own musical depiction of divine wrath is also a roof-raiser; surprisingly so, said The Times, given the BBC's original 1929 commissioning guidelines for "something really light in character and suitable for the microphone"! Conductor Kirill Karabits led a pacy account of the piece, "graced by...impressive choral singing, unanimous in all musical particulars" according to Classical Source. And if King Belshazzar was found wanting, theartsdesk's scales found nothing wrong with the National Youth Choir: "It was the weight of the choir's tone that left the most positive impression...there was none of the featherweight soprano or weedy tenor sound that can mark massed youth choirs."

Audience members were vocal on social media following the concert. One Twitter user wrote: "Don't think I've ever heard a Belshazzar as speedy or jazzy. Bravo!", while another said: "We were (almost literally) blown away by NYCGB in 'Belshazzar's Feast' at the BBC Proms last night. Outstanding performance of an amazing work."

Prom 30 review (The Times) *Registration required
Prom 30 review (theartsdesk) *Registration required
Prom 30 review (Classical Iconoclast)
Prom 30 review (Classical Source)
Prom 30 review (MusicOMH)
Prom 30 review (Bachtrack)
Prom 30 review (Seen & Heard International)