18 things you never knew about the Ulster Youth Orchestra
1 The formation of the Ulster Youth Orchestra 18 years ago in 1993 arose from a partnership between Northern Ireland's five Education and Library Boards and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to give gifted young musicians an opportunity to fulfil their potential.
2 More than 1,800 young musicians have had the chance to study with international conductors and some of the finest musicians in Europe.
3 Lady Daphne Trimble is the chairwoman of the orchestra. She represented it at a Buckingham Palace event this summer.
4 In 2008 it was the only youth orchestra from the UK to be invited to the Young European Classical Festival in Berlin.
5 Every year up to 100 musicians aged between 14 and 23 take part.
6 In 2000 the orchestra won prestigious international arts award the Premium Imperial from the Japan Arts Association, receiving a cash boost of more than £20,000.
7 The orchestra has a full symphonic range of instruments including violins, violas, cellos, double basses, flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, French horns, trumpets, trombones, tuba, harp and percussion.
8 Many talented musicians who have passed through the orchestra have gone on to pursue highly successful professional music careers - they included the piano soloist Michael McHale.
9 Guest conductor Gary Walker from Scotland is the musical director.
10 The orchestra has performed with Lesley Garrett and Sir James Galway.
11 The orchestra has worked with international conductors Yan Pascal Tortelier, Vasilly Petrenko, En Shao, and Takuo Yuasa.
12 It has commissioned and played 12 new works from established and emerging Northern Irish composers.
13 The orchestra is cross-community. It reflects the tradition of working together harmoniously in the pursuit of artistic excellence.
14 It has performed in Belfast, Berlin, Coleraine, Dublin, Edinburgh, Enniskillen, Glasgow, Letterkenny, London, Londonderry and Newry.
15 It holds concerts in Belfast annually and has joined forces with the Ulster Orchestra to play in the Waterfront Hall in 1997, 2002 and 2009.
16 Individual members have distinguished themselves in important competitions such as the Comber Young Musician of the Year, the Belfast Classical Music Bursaries and the Clandeboye Festival hosted by Barry Douglas and Camerata Ireland.
17 Members are auditioned annually on the basis of ability. Successful candidates are invited to attend a 10-day summer residential course, culminating in several public concerts at prestigious venues.
18 At 7.45pm tonight at the Guildhall in Derry and tomorrow at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, the orchestra will perform three Russian masterpieces - Festive Overture by Shostakovich, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2 and Rimsky-Korsakov's dazzling orchestral suite, Scheherazade.