The first ever concert by the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO) in Malta will be held as part of the Malta Arts Festival this week. Made up of young musicians from all 28 EU countries, the EUYO is considered one of the world’s most prestigious orchestras.

The concert is being held under the patronage of President George Abela and will be the first large-scale symphonic concert to be held in Renzo Piano’s redesigned Pjazza Teatru Rjal in Valletta.

Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja will be presented with the Great Europeans Award by the EUYO. This award celebrates and highlights the exceptional contributions of one person from each of the EU member states towards the musical and cultural development of young people.

The award, launched last April in Warsaw when it was presented to Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, will highlight the Maltese tenor’s passion and devotion to children and families in need, which has seen him recently launch the BOV Joseph Calleja Foundation.

In Malta, the EUYO will perform Maurice Ravel’s Boléro, Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition (orchestration, Maurice Ravel), under the baton of conductor Krzysztof Urbanski and Alexander Romanovsky on the piano.

Since its foundation in 1976, the EUYO has developed into one of the world’s most prestigious and dynamic orchestras, providing an exceptional bridge between music colleges and the professional music world for almost 3,000 alumni.

Thousands of musicians aged between 14 and 24 from all 28 EU member states audition annually for a chance to join the orchestra, and the EUYO’s alumni have gone on to perform with many of the world’s leading orchestras as well as developed careers as soloists, conductors, composers and music teachers.

Following the recent entry of Croatia into the EU, the orchestra has welcomed young Croatian musicians for the first time, and now comprises 130 musicians.

Malta’s very own Jean Noel Attard and Nadine Galea currently form part of the EUYO, with Attard occupying the post of principal second violin.

The EUYO has toured with some of the greatest names in classical music, including Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Mstislav Rostropovich and its three notable music directors – Claudio Abbado, Bernard Haitink and current music director Mro Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Throughout its history, the orchestra has acted as a cultural ambassador for the EU, showcasing young Europe’s musical talents across the globe and nurturing cultural development, communication and leadership skills among succeeding generations of Europeans.

Apart from Malta, the EUYO’s 2013-2014 season sees it performing in Austria, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The orchestra’s patrons include heads of state and governments of the 28 EU member states. The EUYO is funded with support from the EU’s Culture Programme and the 28 member states.

The Malta concert is being held in collaboration with V18, supported by the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts and the European Commission Representation in Malta, in partnership with Meusac, and is being made possible through the support of the Mackintosh Foundation and the Malta Tourism Authority.

The concert is being held on Thursday at 8.30pm. Tickets cost €25 or €20 for concessions.

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