THE county’s musical prodigies struck up yesterday for the annual New Year Schools’ Concert.

A crowd of more than 1,500 pupils from 28 primary schools in the county packed into the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford to watch the Oxfordshire County Council’s Youth Orchestra’s morning and evening performances.

And they even joined in as a chorus for several songs.

The band contains students aged between 14 and 19 years, and in recent years has performed in prestigious concert venues in Prague, Paris, Krakow, Spain and Holland.

On the programme were excerpts from Pictures at an exhibition by Mussorgsky and Prelude to Lohengrin by Wagner.

The twice-yearly concerts have been taking place for more than 10 years and have introduced thousands of children to the instruments of the orchestra.

Conductor, composer and lecturer at the University of Oxford, Dr John Traill, said: “It was an honour to conduct and clear that many of the children got so much out of the shows.

“I hope that the passion and skills of those performing will inspire the audience members to pick up an instrument.”