In a week which saw an exciting announcement about one of its alumni, this was a great time to hear the CBSO Youth Orchestra. Jamie Phillips, who went on to become assistant conductor at The Hallé, has been granted a Dudamel Fellowship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 2015/16. The promise of great musical futures always makes for a reassuring and life affirming experience at these concerts, added to which they are enjoyable spectacles in their own right. It was just a shame that the audience was a bit thin on the ground; people of Birmingham, where were you? You missed an uplifting evening!

Specifically this performance was given by the CBSO Youth Orchestra Academy, which selects members from the full Youth Orchestra to give them the chance to extend their repertoire and musical experience. Behind the scenes they receive support and coaching from the main CBSO and they have a brilliant rapport with their conductor Michael Seal. It was a picture of a happy team at work.

The launch pad for the evening came courtesy of a living composer but drew on four centuries of classics. Magnus Lindberg was asked in 2013 to write a fanfare for fellow Finns of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra in celebration of their 30th anniversary; he however felt this achievement worthy of a bigger piece, hence Aventures, complete with near-quotations from Prokoviev, Stravinsky, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Beethoven, Berlioz and Sibelius... all woven into his own original music. The 12 minutes are bookended by the aforementioned fanfare so the CBSO YOA got off to a striking start with assured brass and thunderous timpani. The timing and rhythms struck me as challenging but the young players took it in their stride, with skill particularly evident in the controlled periods of calm between sections and the hush of a slow muted trumpet especially sensitively handled. The contrasting final dramatic flourish meant we were in fanfare territory again, as much as to say "We have something to shout about!"

A pared down orchestra then told us the story of Molière's Le Bourgeios gentilhomme, courtesy of Richard Strauss and music that was originally destined to be incidental to a play that outgrew stageability, so he turned it into a concert suite instead. The eponymous hero flaunts his new-found wealth by throwing lavish parties and dinners, with a cast of musicians, fencing teachers, dancing masters and fashion designers all getting in on the act and depicted by their own multifarious musical characteristics. Highlights included the gentle oboe joined by other winds and horns in the overture; flutes bringing out the dance-like quality of the minuet; the exuberance and confidence of the piano/trumpet combination painting the fencing master's antics; leader Charlotte Moseley weaving in and out with the tailor's precision stitches making sure the gentleman is suitably clad; an affecting, poignant muted sarabande; and the sheer joie de vivre of the dinner party itself, falling scales passed around the instruments like infectious laughter. The audience lapped it up and Seal applauded his players before turning to acknowledge the warm reception himself.

After the interval the stage was once more filled to the brim for Brahms' Symphony no. 4 in E minor. As it happens, my last review also featured this piece, played by the Dresden Philharmonic, so how would these less experienced players fare by comparison? Let's just say they didn't just fill the stage, they owned it! The CBSO YOA tackled Brahms' massive structure of a work with maturity beyond their years and really came into their own. From the confident, majestic attack and warmth of the strings, through fine handling of tempo changes to the first movement's passionate close, they showed both discipline and musicality. The second movement allowed us a good wallow, the unanimity of the lower strings' pizzicato paired with the poised line of brass and wind. In the third movement they brought out both a playful and martial feel, confident answering chords moving on apace. Full marks to the flute solo in the final movement, as well as the clarinet and eloquent trombones. Turning the corner into the clamorous closing stages, with staccato urgency and energy, this enthusiastic and talented orchestra rounded off a fine night of music-making. The audience may not have been full, but we enjoyed it fully.