Cream of Northern Ireland's musical youth ready to make their debut at the Ulster Hall
Nearly 100 young musicians from all over Northern Ireland are taking part this weekend in the Ulster Youth Orchestra's annual concerts under the direction of the top professional conductor Rumon Gamba.
Tonight they will play an ambitious programme of music by Hindemith, Liebermann and Tchaikovsky to a packed audience in the Ulster Hall.
Following competitive auditions for a place in the orchestra, the successful players have spent 10 days recently on a residential summer course where they have been preparing for the challenge of performing an ambitious musical programme to a large live audience.
The orchestra's leader Samuel Kane said: "I started learning the violin at the age of 10 and joined the UYO in 2015.
"I had an unforgettable experience in my first year as I had never played a full symphony before.
"I have learned so much from the orchestra, and the fantastic tutoring has helped my technique to develop and grow.
"This year's programme is very exciting to perform.
"(I'm) especially looking forward to playing it with the stunning Milton violin, which has been generously loaned to me from the Arts Council."
Sisters Sophie and Susana Jones (18) have just finished lower sixth at Methodist College Belfast and this is their first year playing with UYO.
Sophie said: "Preparing for the audition was very hard work, and we really appreciated the guidance of our violin teacher Rebekah Durston."
Susana added: "Looking ahead, hopefully to university life, we are considering studying the humanities and possibly music. However things work out, we are certain that music will continue to play a very important part in our lives."
Violinist Jasmine Morris (18), a former deputy head girl at Coleraine Grammar School, said: "I would encourage anyone who plays an instrument at school to get involved with their area orchestras. I really progressed musically and was given many more opportunities.
"I joined the UYO when I was 15 and this is my third year with them. The first year I was full of nerves but it was the best thing I ever did.
"After our first residential course I came away knowing that this was a world I needed to be part of.
"It helped my dream of becoming a professional violinist.
"The UYO has given me confidence to pursue my dreams. I never believed that this year I would be leader of the second violins, and this is something I am so proud to have achieved."
Trombonist Jack Myles (15) from Newtownards comes from a musical family.
His older brother Tom is principal clarinet with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and his younger sister Isobel will take her first course with the National Children's Orchestra later this year.
Jack has only been playing the trombone for four years but for two of these he was a member of the National Children's Orchestra.
He has also played in Belfast's Grand Opera House on two occasions and has been awarded an ACTL (Trinity College) Performance Diploma, with distinction.
This year he was awarded third place in the Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year competition.
He said: "I am looking forward to meeting lots of new people with a similar dedication to music."
Jack's most recent engagement was playing in the pit of the Grand Opera House summer project Miss Saigon.
UYO manager Paula Klein said: "The orchestra is playing well under Rumon Gamba. Their journey since day one of the residential course has been immense."