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Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra’s 2014-15 season takes flight with a concert featuring dramatic masterworks that include “Swan Lake Suite,” “Pines of Rome” and “Candide”
Orange County, Calif. — October 24, 2014
New this season: all Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles concerts are FREE
The exceptionally talented Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO) begins its 2014-15 Cheng Family Foundation Youth Orchestra concert series with a “Fall Concert,” featuring beautiful and challenging music by Leonard Bernstein, Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Ottorino Respighi. Led by Assistant Conductor Alejandro Gutiérrez, the awe-inspiring young musicians open the concert with the grand and cheerful music of Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide.” Then, “Swan Lake Suite” (selections) shines, showcasing Tchaikovsky’s gift for melody. To conclude, brass musicians from the Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) join in to play Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” an Italian tone poem that achieved success at a time when opera dominated the music scene.
PSYO’s concert takes place on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by William J. Gillespie, tickets to the concert are free and seating is open. To reserve a ticket, call the box office at (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org. Tickets may also be picked up at the door.
PSYO has emerged as Orange County’s premier training orchestra, offering performance opportunities to instrumentalists in grades 9-12 and providing members with a high-quality and innovative artistic experience that encourages musical and personal growth. It is one of three highly coveted education programs under the umbrella of the Pacific Symphony Youth
Ensembles (PSYE). For the 2014-15 PSYE season, 430 musicians auditioned; of which 227 (representing 72 schools) were accepted.
“These amazing young artists deserve to be heard,” says Maestro Gutièrrez. “All of them are being challenged and given the opportunity to prepare to shine as a group—and they will—because of their high level of musicality, expressiveness and performance.
“I hope to help them discover their full individual potential and strengths, and more importantly, I want them to realize the incredible things they can achieve when working together as a team with honesty, responsibility and trust,” he continues. “I also hope they learn the importance of enjoying the preparation process and not just the concerts. Once they learn that, the concerts are just pure fun and joy.”
The program begins with the soaring melodies of Bernstein’s Overture to his comic operetta, “Candide.” The original version of the opera was based on Lillian Hellman’s adaptation of Voltaire’s novel, and focused on the satirical, pessimistic aspects of the story, resulting in limited success. In 1973, Bernstein decided to revise the opera from the ground up, rewriting the lyrics and using Hugh Wheeler’s adaptation instead. His work implies a much more positive outlook, conveying that despite hardship, people still have the capacity to grow and love. In his own words: “This will be our response to violence: To make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly, than ever before.”
“Besides being a great opening piece and offering a lot of resources for the students to technically and musically grow, the Overture from ‘Candide’ by Bernstein also gives them the chance to appreciate and champion the music of American composers,” says Gutièrrez. “Plus, it gives PSYO the opportunity to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration of our music director, Carl St.Clair, who was a student of Leonard Bernstein.”
Following Bernstein’s piece, the program continues with selections from the “Swan Lake Suite.” The famous ballet tells the story of a maiden named Odette, who has been transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer named Von Rothbart. On a magical night, she meets Prince Siegfried and tells him that her spell can only be broken by true love. Previous ballet composers have influenced the music of “Swan Lake,” which precisely matches the physical movements of the dancers. But in this case, these forms combine with Tchaikovsky’s melodic and harmonic sophistications, rich orchestration and masterful use of formal transitions.
The concert then concludes with Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” which is the second of a trio of his famous orchestral tone poems. This work incorporates ancient plainchant and Italian folk melodies, and is kaleidoscopic in technical conception, demonstrating the brilliant orchestration the composer learned from Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
“While the Tchaikovsky is not an easy piece, Respighi’s ‘Pines of Rome’ is the biggest challenge,” says Gutièrrez, “especially due to the amount of details in orchestral color, timbre, textures, rhythm, precision, phrasing, section coordination, endurance (for the brass), solo passages, etc. And considering all of the new students in the orchestra, it is amazing how well they are playing. They are sounding fantastic!”
Under the artistic direction and guidance of the Symphony’s renowned Music Director St.Clair, PSYO is recognized as one of the most outstanding youth orchestras in the country. Founded in 1993, PSYO presents a three-concert series, generously sponsored by the Cheng Family Foundation. Members also participate in a side-by-side concert with Pacific Symphony, where students perform with their professional counterparts as part of the Symphony’s Family Musical Mornings. The final performance of each season features the winner of the annual concerto competition, for which auditions are exclusive to current members of the Youth Orchestra. Each season, students enjoy interaction with Maestro Carl St.Clair, as well as with guest artists and the Symphony’s professional musicians. Students also engage in an annual weekend retreat and are offered free and discounted tickets to Symphony performances throughout the season.
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