Spring Concert and Silent Auction - Young People's Symphony Orchestra
Berkeley's Young People's Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) Spring Concert will feature two YPSO Concerto Competition winners, music director/conductor David Ramadanoff, and 95 young orchestra musicians in a program of Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto in D minor, Beverly Fu, violin; Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Joshua Herman, piano; and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 in D minor.
Each season, YPSO offers all members who have been in the orchestra for at least one full season the opportunity to enter the Concerto Competition to compete for the opportunity to play one movement of a concerto with the orchestra at a regular concert. This year's judges were Ramadanoff, YPSO Violin Coach Robin Hansen, and composer/conductor and Oakland School for the Arts music teacher, Omid Zoufonoun. This season's concerto competition had a record 16 competitors.
Khachaturian wrote his violin concerto during the summer of 1940 and dedicated it to his friend and creative partner, violinist David Oistrakh, whose suggestions and advice proved instrumental in its composition. Khachaturian had already written a Piano Concerto and found he had an affinity for writing concertos. "Probably thirst for 'concerto' music, for the colorful-virtuoso style, is inherent to my creative individuality," Khachaturian explained. He infused the piece with a rhythmic diversity and improvisational style characteristic of his native Armenia.
YPSO concertmaster Beverly Fu, age 17, is a senior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton. She began playing violin at age 9, and currently studies under the tutelage of Abraham Becker. During her five years in YPSO, Beverly has served as both associate concertmaster and concertmaster. She has represented YPSO on a number of occasions, including at all four of the Bay Area Youth Orchestra Festivals (BAYOF), and, in 2013, she served as the all-star Festival Orchestra's concertmaster. She has played at the Junior Bach Festival and with the Pacific Mozart Ensemble. Beverly has also participated in Summer Music West, a summer camp of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music focused on orchestral and ensemble playing. She is an active member of her high school orchestra and has played in the pit orchestra for her school's musical productions the last three years. Beverly is a swimmer, and has competed on Amador Valley's varsity swim team for the past three years. She is also the president of Amador Valley's Science for Youth Club, which strives to expose elementary to middle school students to STEM education, and she enjoys drawing in her free time.
Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 is one of the most beloved concertos in the repertoire. After suffering major depression for three years following the rejection of his Symphony No. 1, Rachmaninoff sought the help of Dr. Nicolai Dahl. After hypnotherapy from Dr. Dahl, the composer was able to complete the concerto, and it was well-received by audiences at its premiere on October 14, 1901, by the Moscow Philharmonic Society, led by Rachmaninoff's cousin Alexander Siloti, with Rachmaninoff at the piano. Interestingly for a piano concerto, the soloist's role in this movement is largely one of accompaniment, until the second theme, one of Rachmaninoff's most familiar and beloved, appears. "It has a broad pacing. The themes are beautiful and expressive. It's well orchestrated and Rachmaninoff uses his resources extremely well," says Ramadanoff.
YPSO principal cellist Joshua Herman, age 18, is a senior at Monte Vista High School in Danville. Joshua is in his fifth year with YPSO, and has studied cello for seven years, most recently with Randy Fromme at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has served as a YPSO cello intern with the Berkeley Symphony in 2011-13, playing at its regular concerts under the baton of conductor Joana Carneiro. Joshua has studied piano for 10 years, most recently with Virginia Bigelow, and has completed Panel Level of the Music Teachers' Association of California Certificate of Merit. He has won numerous honors, including First Place in the 2012 Contra Costa Sonata Competition. This is Joshua's second opportunity to perform a piano concerto with YPSO. He performed the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor in 2010 when he was in ninth grade. Joshua is also a tenor in the Chapel College Men and Boys Choir with Christopher Kula, specializing in a cappella early liturgical music, and has sung for the Monte Vista Chamber Singers, the Contra Costa Children's Chorus, and the Bnai Shalom Synagogue Choir. Musical theater is also a great love for Joshua, and last summer he sung the role of Tony in West Side Story with the Youth Musical Theater Company in Berkeley. Joshua is Captain of Public Forum Debate on his high school team, competing in state and national tournaments, and he recently became the 2013 Poetry Out Loud champion for Contra Costa County.
The orchestra will offer a performance of Shostakovich's defiant and heartfelt Symphony No. 5, which Shostakovich composed in 1936, during the height of the communist regime's repression of him and his family.
The orchestra's annual silent auction fundraiser will feature a cornucopia of 100 items up for bid from getaway vacations to music lessons to a variety of event tickets. The Silent Auction begins at 6:30pm and concludes at the close of the concert's intermission.
Celebrating his 24th season as Music Director/Conductor, David Ramadanoff conducts 95 YPSO musicians who range in age from 12 to 21 and hail from 29 Bay Area cities in six counties.
Founded in Berkeley in 1936, YPSO is the oldest youth orchestra in California and the second oldest in the nation. Violinist and conductor Jessica Marcelli founded YSPO at the suggestion of Clarabelle Bell, an amateur harpist and Berkeley resident, who got the idea after hearing a youth orchestra on a trip to Portland, Oregon.
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