MEMBERS of the National Youth Orchestra (NYO) gave a series of impromptu performances to shoppers and tourists in Durham City yesterday (Saturday, April 12).

One ensemble played a selection of music in Durham Cathedral and its cloisters, while another set up in a city store.

The Play the City sessions were presented as the 165-strong NYO reached the halfway point of its annual residency at Durham University’s St Hild and St Bede College.

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NYO spokesman Nathan Comer: “The NYO - the UK’s largest orchestra - comes to Durham City every spring.

“All of our members are teenagers who are at school and this residency gives a vital opportunity to rehearse material together.

“It is very intense two weeks, since a lot of the members are having to prepare for their GCSEs and A-levels as well.”

As part of their visit the NYO have already held an Inspire Day with young musicians from across the region, who were invited to play with orchestra members.

The special event on Monday, April 7, saw young players chat and rehearse with NYO principal players and tutors, before performing in front of family and friends in an informal concert at the end of the day.

The orchestra is now busy with final rehearsals for a concert at Sage Gateshead at 7.30pm on Friday April 18.

They will be playing Thomas Ades’ Asyla and Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben, under the baton of Francois-Xavier Roth. Tickets: £10, Under 25's £5.

Sage Gateshead box office: 0191-443 4661.