The San Diego Youth Symphony is a group I’ve been intending to check out for a while now, and on Saturday I made it down to Symphony Hall around 1 p.m. for their winter showcase. I had no idea what to expect.
There were four groups and each group played about 20 minutes worth of music. Two of the groups were wind ensembles — something like a concert band — and the other two groups were orchestral.
It was impressive.
The Concert Winds started the program. I’m not too sure about the makeup of each group but these appeared to be the younger kids. The second piece of music they played had a tune with which I was familiar. I wasn’t in band growing up so I’m not familiar with most of the rep, but I do know a hymn tune when I hear it.
After the Concert Winds was the Wind Symphony. These musicians sounded a little more experienced and I enjoyed the variety of the music they performed, particularly a piece by Samuel R. Hazo called Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song.
As the string players began filing onstage for the Concert Orchestra, my first thought was tuning. How would their tuning be? I prepared myself for what I thought would be the inevitable wobbly string sound of the blossoming musician.
The music started and the tuning was brilliant. I was impressed.
The final ensemble to play was the Sinfonia. This was the most advanced group of the concert and they played two pieces by Mozart and one by Khachaturian. The Mozart pieces were aggressive choices because Mozart is always way more difficult to play or sing than it sounds.
In fact, I’d say that Mozart is the acid test for an orchestra’s abilities at any level and the Sinfonia kids were up to it.
This concert was primarily for family of friends, but I’d say it would be an enjoyable experience for anyone who loves classical music.
Later that evening the most advanced ensemble, the Symphony Orchestra, played a separate concert of Tchaikovsky and Ravel.