Spring Concert - 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 100 young orchestra musicians in a program of Berlioz's Overture to Le Corsaire, Reinecke's Ballade for Flute and Orchestra, Rachel Adams, flute, Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, 1st Movement, Ellie Kanayama, violin, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10.
Please Note: The orchestra's annual Silent Auction Benefit will be held on May 3, 6:30pm-8:00pm, and at the concert's intermission.
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, violist and conductor Rem Djemilev, who is Music Director of Young People's Chamber Orchestra, and Monica Scott, who is a cellist and private cello teacher. Ellie Kanayama, violin, and Rachel Adams, flute, were chosen as concerto competition winners along with three other musicians who performed on the orchestra's Winter Concert program in February 2014.
The Spring Concert's program offers four distinct pieces and styles for the orchestras' musicians, three of which the orchestra hasn't played previously.
The concert will begin with Hector Berlioz's (1803-1869) rousing Overture to Le Corsaire; a piece he completed in 1844 and revised in 1852. It went through several title changes, too, but the composer eventually settled on "The Pirate," which was based upon Lord Byron's semi-autobiographical, nautical poetical tale The Corsair. "It has a feeling of adventure to it," says Ramadanoff of the eight-minute work.
Felix Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) Violin Concerto in E minor stands as one of the most beloved Violin concertos in the classical repertoire. Mendelssohn composed his celebrated Violin Concerto for Ferdinand David, one of the leading violinists of the mid-19th century and a long-time associate. The work "pleased extraordinarily well," David noted of its reception at that time. This composition represented, in 1844, a fairly advanced interpretation of classical concerto form. Mendelssohn dispenses with the traditional orchestral exposition at the opening of the work, allowing the soloist to present the principal theme from the outset. "It's underestimated and really is a masterwork. It requires precision, lightness, and musicality. It's like trying to play a more romantic version of Mozart," says Ramadanoff.
Kanayama's violin teacher, Heghine Boloyan, chose the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto for her because she thought that it would suit Kanayama's style of playing well. "I instantly loved this piece because it consists of different themes with expressive and exciting characters. I especially like the beautiful melody of the opening theme," says Kanayama.
Ellie Kanayama, age 14, is an eighth grader at the Crowden School in Berkeley, and this is her second season with YPSO. She started playing the violin at the age of five, and is currently studying with Heghine Boloyan. Before studying with her current teacher, she lived in Japan and studied with Sumiko Edo until she moved to the Bay Area in sixth grade. Kanayama went on tour in Washington D.C in 2013 and performed at the Lincoln Memorial and the National Gallery with her school. She was selected to play in several chamber music master classes, including with Yo-Yo Ma, the Alexander String Quartet, and Baumer String Quartet. Kanayama also participated in the Junior Bach Festival in the past two years and the Menuhin Seminar and Festival in 2013.
German composer, conductor and pianist Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) was a renowned pedagogue who attained the prestigious double position of director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra and professor of composition and piano at Leipzig Conservatory. Among his pupils were Grieg, Albeniz, Janacek, and Bruch. He was also considered the foremost Mozart interpreter and accompanist of his time and he composed symphonies and concertos for a wide variety of instruments. He resisted the German musical style of the day embodied in Wagner and Liszt's music, and yet Reinecke's classicist stance and his penchant for fantasy mirror the Romantic dichotomy. At age 84 in 1908, Reinecke wrote his final two works: Flute Concerto in D Major and Ballade for Flute and Orchestra in D minor, both permeated with late Romantic harmony, skillful counterpoint, and his tuneful melodies.
Rachel Adams, age 17, is a junior at Head-Royce School in Oakland and is in her third season with YPSO. She began playing the flute at age eight, and later joined the Berkeley Youth Orchestra where she played for three years. In 2010, she was a winner of their concerto competition. Rachel placed third in the solo division at the U.S. Open Music Competition in 2012, and performed in the Junior Bach Festival in 2012 and 2013. Outside of YPSO, Rachel plays with the Handel Opera Project, a chamber group of professional musicians providing accompaniment for small operas. Additionally, Rachel has sung with the Piedmont East Bay Children's Choir (PEBCC) since age seven. In the Choir, she currently sings with two groups, works as a Teaching Assistant, and has composed an a capella piece for treble voices. She currently studies with Esther Landau at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she also studies musicianship and is working towards an Advanced Level in the pre-college Certificate Program.
The final work on the program will be Dmitri Shostakovich's (1906-1975) Symphony No. 10 in E minor. Composed from 1951 to 1953, the 50-minute work is considered one of the outstanding symphonies of the twentieth century. Debuted a few months after Joseph Stalin's death in 1953, Shostakovich said in his posthumously published memoir, Testimony that the symphony was about the Soviet dictator who scrutinized and terrorized him, his family, and colleagues for 20 years. Its overriding themes are terror, militarism, sadness, and despair, but lastly transcendence in its tumultuous conclusion. "He was writing about his time, it had to be accessible, but he was always mindful of his oppressors. It's very reflective of his times and how beaten down he was," says Ramadanoff.
Maestro Ramadanoff first discovered Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony in the late 1970s. "I found it and was really attracted to it," he says. In 1980 Ramadanoff won the Leopold Stokowski Conducting Award, under whose auspices he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1982 with the American Symphony in Stravinsky's Fireworks, Barber's Violin Concerto, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10.
As part of the YPSO tour in June 2014 to New York and Boston, Ramadanoff and the orchestra will play a movement of the Shostakovich Tenth Symphony in New York's Carnegie Hall, which will complete a circle for the conductor begun over 30 years ago. Reflecting upon the 25 years on the podium for YPSO, Ramadanoff says the orchestra has gotten better and better. "We couldn't have taken on Shostakovich's Symphonies 5 (2013) or 10, La Mer (2012) in earlier years. The general level of the orchestra has risen as has the players' skill level," he says.
Celebrating his 25th season as Music Director/Conductor, David Ramadanoff conducts 100 YPSO musicians who range in age from 12 to 21 and hail from 32 Bay Area cities in seven 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.
For more information about YPSO, please go to www.ypsomusic.net, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 510-849-9776.
Berlioz - Overture to Le Corsaire
Reinecke - Ballade for Flute and Orchestra in D minor, Rachel Adams, flute
Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in E minor, 1st Movement, Ellie Kanayama, violin
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 10 in E minor
Oakland Scottish Rite Center (View)
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