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Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, organist and 11-year-old singer come together for the Spring Concert with music by Bernstein, Arnold, Martinu and Ticheli

February 11, 2013

The highly-respected students of Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) have the rare first-time experience of performing with the magnificent 4,322 pipes of the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for their "Spring Concert." Composed for wind ensemble, soprano soloist and organ, Frank Ticheli's "Angels in the Architecture" becomes the centerpiece of the program and features 11-year-old vocalist Max Uehara and organist Kristen Lawrence. Inspired by the Sydney Opera House where it premiered, the piece explores the forces of the divine and evil on humanity. Led by Music Director Joshua Roach, PSYWE's second concert of the season takes place Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 each, general admission. For more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.

The concert opens with a movement from Leonard Bernstein's "Profanation" from his first symphony, "Jeremiah," written shortly after the composer's first conducting engagement with the New York Philharmonic. The ensemble then travels to Europe for English composer Malcolm Arnold's "Four Scottish Dances," before playing Bohuslav Martinu's heartbreaking "Memorial to Lidice," a piece of consolation to the small then-Czechoslovakian town that was destroyed during World War II. Maestro Roach says he built the program around one work that he has wanted to do with the Wind Ensemble for several years: Frank Ticheli's "Angels in the Architecture." For this piece, the orchestra is joined by Uehara, an 11-year-old fifth-grade stage hound, who for the past five years has studied and performed with Lori Loftus' Southern California Children's Chorus (SCCC). He also performed with Theater Experience as Oliver in the musical "Oliver!" in 2012. Uehara and a select group from the SCCC accompanied singer Jackie Evancho at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the 2011 American Giving Awards in Los Angles.

"I love performing Frank's music," says Maestro Roach. "His compositions are extremely well crafted, accessible, relevant to audiences and contain in them musical material that can be used as pedagogical tools, and, very importantly, are fun for the players to play!

"From a mechanical-musical standpoint, each work on the program has its own challenges that can be used for teaching. The changing meter in the 'Profanation' is great for learning the different ways in which composers organize rhythm. 'Four Scottish Dances' offers a great exercise in 'good ole' standard ensemble balance...melody and accompaniment. 'Angels' is a great ensemble piece that requires listening and rhythmic interaction between everyone in the ensemble. Also, there is a beautiful chorale in the work that I use to inspire homogenous, blended and beautiful sound concepts. Finally, 'Lidice' is written in a way that groups like instruments together (woodwinds and brass). This offers an opportunity for the families of instruments in the ensemble to develop their identities and 'choirs,' if you will."

Established in 2007, PSYWE has quickly gained recognition for being at the forefront of wind ensemble development in the country. Representing 23 schools in and beyond Orange County, PSYWE offers performance opportunities to instrumentalists in grades 8 through 12, providing members with a high quality and innovative artistic experience. Under the direction and enthusiasm of Music Director Roach from USC's Thornton School of Music, and with the artistic direction of Pacific Symphony's renowned Music Director Carl St.Clair, the ensemble strives to encourage musical and personal growth through the art of performance. Students receive regular interaction and guidance from Symphony musicians, guest artists and Maestro St.Clair.

"The students are progressing wonderfully!" continues Roach. "In the fall, we see them develop core sound, but in the spring, the ensemble begins to develop a distinct personality. The buzz in rehearsal is evident, and I love the sense of excitement and camaraderie. This growth over the year makes the music-making process so much more meaningful, fun and fulfilling. Not only do we see it musically, but these musicians are budding young adults, and so we see life-growth as well."

PSYWE returns to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall for their "Season Finale" on May 5, at 3 p.m. for a free concert and joint performance with the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West.