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They come from Belgium and Italy, from Cyprus, Czechia and Spain, from all parts of the European Union. They are among the best up-and-coming musicians in the world and they all share a love of music and a European identity. When the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) performs, it reveals how music can transcend borders and bring Europeans closer across the continent. 

Last week, the musicians at the Young Euro Classic Festival performed the final concert, “Europe: Remembrance and Hope”, at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Thirty-seven EUYO musicians from 14 European countries performed standards by Mozart and Beethoven, as well as pieces by the late romantic Russian composer, Nikolai Tcherepnin (1873-1945), and a tango-infused double bass quartet by Peter Grans (*1954) of Finland. The concert was part-funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

Given the COVID-19 distancing rules on the stage and in the auditorium, the focus this year was on chamber music rather than the communal singing which took place in 2019. Only a quarter of the seats in the Berlin Konzerthaus were available. It was therefore decided for the first time to release full length videos of the best Young Euro Classic concerts online, so that everybody can see and hear what they missed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also made rehearsing very difficult for the European Union Youth Orchestra. But they found practical solutions. They set up a new online platform called EUYOdigital, which enables orchestra members to practise in the best possible way. In addition, they organised the European Music Gallery Festival, a series of 23 “physically-distanced” live concerts in 19 EU countries and the UK. Roughly 300 musicians are involved in the project.

The Young Euro Classic Festival introduces itself

European Union Youth Orchestra

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You can find out more about the culture programme of Germany's Presidency of the Council of the EU here