The Youth of Today are getting a bad press of late, particularly if, as we do, you live in a leafy part of North London worryingly close to some of the more gang-ridden areas.

So last night's prizegiving concert at Junior Trinity in the rather splendid setting of St John's Church, Waterloo, was a thoroughly heartwarming experience.

For those who don't know, Junior Trinity is a Saturday school. Its intake spans 5 to 18 year olds, who give up their whole Saturday to come and attend the school and do a variety of lessons, workshops, ensemble work, etc. In some cases, it's an extensive Saturday: there are students who start travelling at 5am to get into Trinity for 8, and leave when a full-on day of classes finishes at 6pm. These are kids who show serious commitment by any measure you can apply.

The atmosphere was fantastic, full of warmth and caring - Trinity is a school which encourages mutual support and ensemble work rather than brute competitiveness, and it showed in the general buzz and good cheer around the hall, broken only by the occasional outbreak of tears of parting sorrow between some of the leavers.

And the music was an great demonstration of what these kids can achieve. The choral works in particular were sung absolutely beautifully and flawlessly, with much-loved resident composer Cecilia McDowall's Regina Caeli being a true revelation in every sense. All of the ensemble works were very ambitious indeed - the fact that youth ensembles could be tackling them at all was fairly astonishing, so one has to forgive the odd flaw - but there was plenty of excellent playing, and no mistaking the obvious enthusiasm and immense concentration levels of everyone involved. I particularly enjoyed the high excitement of "Hoe down" from Aaron Copland's cowboy ballet Rodeo and the first movement of Rachmaninov's second Piano Concerto, in which pianist James Williams gave a performance assured well beyond his years.

I left the hall thoroughly buoyed up by the whole evening, and with enormous respect for what Trinity and its students can achieve.

And as various people pointed out, these kids don't carry knives...

14th July 2008