Diversity Reigns When Youth Orchestra Plays Music by Copland, Wagner and Respighi
The virtuosity of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, will be on full display for an evening of soaring symphonic masterpieces sure to thrill. Prepare to feel compelled by the regal fanfares of Wagner’s Overture to “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg”; captivated by the homegrown Americana of Copland’s “Billy the Kid” Suite (preceded by musical excerpts from the suite that will be played and discussed from the stage); and transformed by the enveloping tranquility found in Respighi’s “Church Windows.” For the young musicians, it’s an evening of demanding works and an opportunity to shine. For the audience, it’s a chance to sit back and enjoy a memorable showcase of young talent and awe-inspiring artistry.
“This will be PSYO’s second concert of the season, and I am always amazed by the musicality and artistry of the orchestra,” says Maestro Kalia. “The program itself is extremely challenging but they are more than up to the task. I have been so pleased with the improvement and hard work that our musicians put in week after week. We had an immensely successful season opening back in November, and I am thrilled to witness how much they have bonded as an orchestra since then, both musically and personally.”
PSYO’s spring concert takes place Sunday, March 26, at 7 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Thanks to the generosity of sponsor Carlos Mollura, this concert is free to attend, but tickets are required. To reserve a general admission seat, call the Symphony’s box office at (714) 755-5799 or CLICK HERE.
“Every piece is stylistically different from the other, which makes for a program that is eclectic and unique, as well as being extremely educational for our musicians,” states Kalia. “In general, I love to program works of great variety for our audience, while also making sure that our musicians are playing as many different styles of music as possible. The music of Wagner is heavy and thick, while Copland requires a playfulness and rhythmic feel that is extremely unique to any other composer. Respighi’s sound world requires power and endurance, while also being extremely intimate and nostalgic."
Wagner’s Overture to “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” is grand and majestic in terms of its sound world. The opera, or as Wagner liked to call it, the “music drama,” was written between 1862 and 1867, but it is clear that Wagner had crystallized the themes well before it was completed. The overture, which contains the main themes, was finished long before the opera and was played several times on its own for concerts. It’s a brief, 10-minute work that combines the power of the brass with lush and rich melodies from the strings.
Copland’s “Billy the Kid” Suite is a musical depiction of the American Wild West. It was originally a one-act ballet, based on a semi-fictional treatment of the notorious outlaw William H. Bonney (aka, Billy the Kid). This suite features the most famous musical numbers from the ballet. Copland quotes authentic cowboy songs such as “Goodbye Old Paint” and “Git Along, Little Doggies” and adapts them into his own unique musical language. This is Copland depicting the American sound at its finest: jaunty, irregular rhythms; simple, triadic harmonies, and intimate and grand orchestral texture.
“Respighi’s ‘Church Windows’ is a rarely performed work,” notes Kalia, “which is quite puzzling to me since there are so many wonderful musical moments for the orchestra.” The work was adapted from an earlier piano suite of Respighi’s, and although it is not a programmatic work, the listener can’t help but imagine the various stained glass windows throughout the piece. There are numerous solo features, most notably in the clarinet and trumpet, and heavy brass and percussion, plus, the organ is also featured, particularly in the fourth movement. “Pacific Symphony actually recorded this work in the early 1990s,” adds Kalia, “which just goes to show the musical abilities of the PSYO.”