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Winds wail and strings sing! Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles kick off their 2013-14 Seasons
November 07, 2013
Youth Wind Ensemble sparkles with captivating mix of Americana music at Irvine Barclay Theatre
Symphony’s Santiago Strings offers free concert spotlighting music of the Russian masters at Concordia University
On display this month is the impressive talent of some of Southern California’s most gifted young musicians, as two of Pacific Symphony’s three Youth Ensembles’ (PSYE) 2013-14 seasons begin with concerts in Irvine. Led by Music Director Joshua Roach, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) enraptures listeners with a decadent American soundscape that combines present and past favorites, while Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS) performs a robust program of music written by Russian composers. The Youth Wind Ensemble’s concert takes place Sunday, Nov. 24, at 3 p.m., at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Tickets are $12 general admission and may also be purchased at the door. The Santiago Strings perform on Saturday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m., at Concordia University. Admission to this concert is free, no ticket required. For more information about either concert or to purchase tickets for PSYWE, call the Symphony’s box office at (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble PSYWE’s season is set to begin with a roar, as it performs a program of American-inspired music, led by Music Director Joshua Roach, including the expressive sounds of Vincent Persichetti’s “Divertimento for Band,” the gripping originality of Ryan George’s “Redwood,” the gracefully feminine tunes of John Philip Sousa’s “Daughters of Texas,” as well as the pentatonic scales found in Donald Grantham’s “Southern Harmony.”
“For young musicians, I feel it is very important that our seasons have a mixture of established core repertoire pieces and newer works,” says Maestro Roach, who adds that “the competition to be admitted into the ensemble was as great as any year to date and PSYWE is stronger than ever! I am very pleased about this because we have very difficult (and rewarding) repertoire in store for us this year.”
The Wind Ensemble’s concert opens with two newer pieces, followed by Sousa’s riveting “Daughters of Texas.” Roach, who worked with Music Director Carl St.Clair to develop this season’s repertoire, says: “This season we have Persichetti’s ‘Divertimento,’ which wonderfully balances the choirs in the ensemble (woodwind, brass and percussion), while offering individuals a chance to shine with solo moments.” He adds that “George’s ‘Redwood’ is a very different type of work than Persichetti’s. The writing is elegant and the orchestration colorful in a wonderful, almost Ravelian way.”
Roach says he has performed a number of marches with PSYWE, but typically, they tend not to be of the traditional military flavor. “It’s my intent that our experience with ‘Daughters of Texas’ will inspire us to look deep into this music. Playing Sousa with a wind ensemble is like playing Haydn with an orchestra—the material on the page is naked, and the artistic decisions and quality of the music-making is more so at the mercy of the performers.”
The concert concludes with Grantham’s “Southern Harmony,” an innovative interpretation of American folk-based music of which Roach says: “Grantham’s setting and compositional exploration of these hymns is wonderful, and the ensemble, as I predicted, has been challenged and inspired by the depth and demands of this work.”
Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings Led by Music Director Irene Kroesen, PSSS take the audience on a musical sojourn to Russia, and performs Mikhail Glinka’s exciting and fast-paced Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla,” arranged by Sieving; the work is symbolic of the Russian Nationalist School, of which the composer is considered to be the founder. The program continues with a string arrangement by Gruselle of the final movement of Prokofiev’s first symphony, which he named “Classical Symphony,” and loosely imitates the style of Haydn. Borodin’s “Nocturne,” the most famous movement from his StringQuartet No. 2 follows. The concert concludes with Rimsky-Korsakov’s colorful “Cappricio Espagnol,” arranged for strings by Dackow.
“The works presented in this program, except for Borodin’s ‘Nocturne,’ are originally scored for symphony orchestra,” says Maestra Kroesen. “It is a challenge for the ensemble to perform arrangements of these large works with care and precision whilst striving to keep the musical integrity of the original piece. The members of this year’s Santiago Strings are highly trained, both technically and musically, and show a great energetic spirit in their playing. Their musical vitality will certainly be evident in their performance on Nov. 23.”
PSSS grew substantially this season through the large turnout of auditions. “I’m excited that Pacific Symphonyis able to reach more young musicians through PSSS this season,” says Director of Youth Ensembles Melissa Craig. “The more young people we reach through the Youth Ensembles, the more lives we can impact in a positive and nurturing way through music.”
Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles (PSYE) is a premier performance program, nurturing and inspiring young artists in grades 6 through 12. More than 423 students auditioned for places in the three Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles this year—a record-breaking number! PSYE provides members with a high-quality and innovative artistic experience and strives to encourage musical and personal growth through the art of performance. The Youth Ensembles include three performing ensembles: Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, PSYWE and PSSS. All three benefit from the artistic vision of Music Director St.Clair, who acts as the artistic advisor for all activities. Representing 72 schools in and beyond Orange County, PSYE performs in the world-class Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, as well as at other venues in Orange County. Students enjoy a variety of interactions with Pacific Symphony musicians including sectional coachings, master classes and side-by-side performances.
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