Tonight the NZSO National Youth Orchestra delivered a particularly clever programme.

Everything was written within the past eight decades, with two Kiwi offerings hot off the press; as well, all four pieces had been inspired by music that had gone before.

Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra lent the evening its title and, under Sir James MacMillan, the composer's Purcellian diversions sparked and sparkled in young hands. Soloist Colin Currie was in prime form for Sir James MacMillan's Veni Veni Emmanuel. Even if banks of percussion obliterated some busy string passages, one could sense the musicians appreciating the very special collaboration.

The NZSO NYO usually features one new local work; tonight we had two.

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Celeste Oram's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra treated Britten as a jumping-off point for a welter of music and commentary, much of it coming from the musicians' FM battery radios. It jolted and amused, with its political and musical satire, but was perhaps a little long at 18 minutes.

Still, there were bonuses. Taking a lead from Haydn, Oram's players left the stage and came down to the stalls, giving this critic the privilege of being a metre from two violinists' lyrical snatches of Brahms and Sibelius.

Reuben Jelleyman's Vespro was the equivalent of exquisite sonic needlepoint, threaded through and around floating melodies from Monteverdi's Vespers.

What: NZSO National Youth Orchestra
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Saturday