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Fueled by talent, passion and adrenaline, exceptional musicians of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra take journey of a lifetime as they travel to China on 10-day tour!
Orange County, Calif. — May 03, 2016
It’s an opportunity not even all professional musicians encounter—a chance to take their music on the road (or in this case—in the air for 11+ hours), but that’s exactly the reward waiting for Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra at the end of their 2015-16 season! Departing Orange County on June 24, approximately 75 students, Assistant Conductor and PSYO Music Director Roger Kalia, about 20 accompanying family members, and a handful of Symphony staff members, embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, as they bring their music to China. Over the course of the 10-day tour, the students will visit two of the major metropolitan hubs, Beijing and Shanghai, as well as the tranquil water town of Wuzhen, to perform three concerts in some of the country’s most iconic venues: Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall, Shanghai’s Oriental Arts Centre and Wuzhen’s Grand Theatre. By the time they return on July 3, PSYO students will also have taken part in a cultural exchange with the Shanghai Nanyang Model School Orchestra, as well as be some of the first Americans to visit the brand new Shanghai Disney Resort, which opens just one week before their arrival.
For more information on Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles, call (714) 755-5788 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org/PSYE.
“I am literally counting down the days!” says Maestro Kalia, who echoes the excitement of his music students. “Ever since I started conducting, I’ve always dreamed of bringing my own orchestra on an international tour. Having the opportunity to travel to China with PSYO is very personally meaningful because I also went to China when I was a high school junior, as a trumpet player with my local youth orchestra in New York. Everyone is extremely excited and are very much looking forward to representing Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra as cultural ambassadors abroad.”
The tour enhances these students in a variety of ways—as they either approach next season with PSYO or head out into the world after graduating high school. The past season in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which concludes on May 22, has been a time to rehearse, prepare and look forward to the trip to China. Building to a climax with this tour, the ensemble’s artistic cohesiveness is at its peak. This is just the second international tour the Youth Orchestra has ever taken; PSYO had the opportunity to tour Bulgaria in 2011, so the new opportunity is highly anticipated. For many of the young musicians, this will be the first time that they have performed with an orchestra in another country, so most don’t know what to expect. Not only do they want to give the best possible performance, but they also want to experience the culture of China and immerse themselves in a completely foreign environment. In addition to playing in both of these cities, they plan to visit many of China’s treasured tourist attractions, including the brand new Shanghai Disney Resort, and get a taste of each city’s local culture and distinct cuisine.
“For me, this tour is about getting closer as a group and seeing our musicians come together,” says Kalia. “There is something about being on the road and in a foreign country that really draws people together. Having the opportunity to see and experience another culture is something these young musicians will never forget.”
The concert program for the tour opens with Li Huanzhi’s “Spring Festival Overture,” and includes excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances” from his musical, “West Side Story”—one work representing the East, another the West. Rounding out the program, PSYO musicians are taking to China two pieces from the their final program of their season in Segerstrom Concert Hall: Tchaikovsky’s masterful Fourth Symphony, and a newly commissioned, nine-minute work by the Symphony’s talented composer-in-residence, Narong Prangcharoen, titled “Lighter than Air”—minimalist and highly rhythmic.
It’s been quite a coup that PSYO students have had the opportunity to work with and get to know a living composer such as Prangcharoen. He not only participated in rehearsals for the final concert of the season, interacting with the musicians, but he plans to fly from his native Thailand (he now lives in the United States) to China in order to meet the Youth Orchestra for its performances.
Kalia explains that the orchestra will need to adjust their approach slightly from hall to hall, due to the varying acoustics in each venue. Because of this, he thinks the students will become more flexible as musicians. He also believes that there is a different mindset when you are performing on tour, especially in a country like China.
“You need to conserve your energy more and stay fresh since you are playing the same program three times in a short span of time. I think that the students will approach music in a different way because of this. Not only that, they will become more accustomed to playing for a completely different type of audience in a variety of concert halls.”
Another exciting aspect of the trip for PSYO is the opportunity to meet with and rehearse alongside the students of the Shanghai Nanyang Model School Youth Orchestra, a high school youth orchestra made up of some of the top young musicians in the Shanghai area school district. PSYO will have a side-by-side rehearsal/workshop that includes both orchestras’ conductors. The rehearsal includes a portion of PSYO’s concert program, as well as a Chinese orchestra piece to be selected by the Shanghai youth orchestra.
“It will be a fun opportunity for our students to meet and play with some young musicians of similar talent and age,” says Bella Staav, PSYE director, who will be traveling with PSYO in China. “We’ll also be holding a little reception or lunch for the two groups afterward.”
Kalia anticipates that this experience will enable the students to build memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. He calls the collaboration with the youth orchestra in Beijing an invaluable experience. Culturally, the tour will have a big affect on them, as well. China is a vast country, rich in history, culture and art. With its high-end concert halls, deep-rooted appreciation for the arts and hospitable atmosphere for tourism, China has become a hot destination for professional and youth orchestras from all across the globe.
“Their worldview will broaden and their perspective will change as they become immersed in this environment,” says Kalia. “Performing in different concert halls and seeing the sights and sounds of different cities in China inspired me to become a professional musician. It is a true honor to serve as cultural ambassadors, and I look forward to sharing the talent of these remarkable young musicians. This will be an elevating and transformative experience for them, and I can’t wait!”
Staav, reflecting on the 2011 tour to Bulgaria, says: “Through the touring experience—which is made up of hours of rehearsal time, hours of travel time and moments of pure joy and wonder—PSYO will become a solidified unit in music and in spirit. In Bulgaria, we spent so much time together in both an orchestral and a social setting that we were all the more in tune with one another and melded really well together. And the camaraderie carried over into the following season, when the chemistry onstage exuded nothing but positivity. I’m excited to see this happen next season as a result of the China tour.”
Under the artistic direction and guidance of the Symphony’s renowned Music Director Carl 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 series. 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. Students also enjoy interaction with Maestro 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.
PSYO is one of three youth ensembles (along with Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble and Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings) that fall under the umbrella of the Symphony’s education programs.
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