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Fall Concert - Young People's Symphony Orchestra
first congregational church
berkeley, CA
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Fall Concert - Young People's Symphony Orchestra
Emmanuel Chabrier  España
Leonard Bernstein  Three Dance Episodes from Fancy Free
Ernest Chausson  Poème for Violin and Orchestra, Isabelle Ai Durrenberger,
 guest violinist
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  - Symphony No. 6 in B minor (Pathétique)


Young Peoples Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) kicks off its 82nd season with the Fall Concert that will feature guest violinist Isabelle Ai Durrenberger, music director/conductor David Ramadanoff, and 85 young musicians in a program of Chabriers España, Bernsteins Three Dance Episodes from Fancy Free, Chaussons Poème for Violin and Orchestra, and Tchaikovskys Symphony No. 6 (Pathétique).

The concert will open with Emmanuel Chabriers most popular piece, España, a work the French composer wrote in 1883 after an inspirational trip he made to Spain the year before. From the evidence of Chabrier's letters, it's clear that what fascinated him included not only the music he encountered in cafes and plazas but the sexiness of Spanish dancers as well. In España, the vogue for evoking "exotic," sultry Spanish atmospheres is evident, a trend that would continue with other French composers such as Falla, Debussy and Ravel. In España, this is embodied in an irrepressibly and irresistibly joyful fantasia of rhythms and orchestral colors. In the opening moments, Chabrier resorts to the cliché of the ensemble imagined as a giant guitar, but he makes it sound fresh-you can imagine a group of dancers lining up to perform. The harmonic palette is simple and mostly static, which shifts the focus to rhythmic and instrumental patterns. The dynamics are very subtle and very easy to over play. You have to maintain a lightness throughout the piece and a crispness of the rhythm, says Ramadanoff.

As a continuation of the orchestras celebration of Leonard Bernsteins 100th birthday in 2018, Maestro Ramadanoff, who programmed the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story in April 2018, will offer another tribute to his former teacher with a YPSO-first performance of the jazz-infused score of Three Dance Episodes from Bernsteins ballet Fancy Free, a work that depicts wartime New York City, circa 1944, and three sailors on 24-hour shore leave who are on the prowl for women.

Violinist Isabelle Ai Durrenberger will be the guest soloist for Ernest Chaussons Poème for Violin and Orchestra, a first performance for YPSO and Durrenberger. Born in Paris in 1855, Chausson earned his law degree before he abruptly gave up his legal career and, at the age of 24, enrolled at the Conservatoire in Paris, where he would learn from two of Frances leading composers, Jules Massenet and César Franck. Chaussons brief career produced works in a number of genres, including opera, art song, religious music, chamber music, and symphony. His best-known work, however, is the hauntingly beautiful Poème for Violin and Orchestra, which has occupied a special place in the violin repertoire since its premiere in 1896. That premiere was given by the man to whom the work was dedicated, the legendary Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, who was a close friend of Chaussons. The magical effect of the Poème combines the power of Wagnerian harmony with French sensuousness and a beguiling exoticism.

Ramadanoff, who conducted the Poème as Associate Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony with Isaac Stern as soloist in the late 1970s, admires it greatly. Its a passionate, meditative piece. Its heart breaking. Chausson wasnt taken seriously as a composer until he wrote this piece. When Ysaÿe premiered it, it was an immediate hit, says Ramadanoff.

Violinist Isabelle Ai Durrenberger, age 19, is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree with Jaime Laredo and Jinjoo Cho at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Recognized as a young soloist of potential, Ms. Durrenberger was awarded the Milton Preves Memorial 3rd Prize at the June 2018 Irving M. Klein Competition held at San Francisco State University.  She was a participant in the 2018 International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove Master classes in the class of Gerhard Schulz.  Durrenberger competed in the 2017 Isang Yun Violin Competition, 2017 Stulberg International String Competition, and in the fall of 2016 was the winner of the Cleveland Institute of Music Concerto Competition.  Durrenberger has performed with many orchestras including the Columbus Symphony, Asheville Symphony, Naples Orchestra and Chorus, Lakeside Symphony Orchestra and the Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2014, Ms. Durrenberger was on the NPR radio show, From The Top, as a soloist and chamber musician. During high school, Ms. Durrenberger studied with Jaime Laredo and Joan Kwuon and spent her summers at the Meadowmount School of Music with Jan Mark Sloman.  Her most recent summer studies were at ENCORE Chamber Music and Summer Academy, and Aspen Music Festival and School as a full-tuition orchestral fellowship recipient.  

The final work on the program will be Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in B minor. After performing Tchaikovskys Fourth Symphony in the 2017-18 season, Ramadanoff has programmed the Sixth Symphony, a work YPSO last played in 2014. Both works are very challenging for any orchestra, let alone a youth orchestra. The emotional arc is just as challenging as the technical parts of the piece, says Ramadanoff of the Sixth Symphony.

Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony had its premiere with the composer on the podium just one week prior to his premature death in 1893 from cholera at age 53. The symphony stands as a unique achievement in orchestral history: filled with anguish in an emotional language unique to Tchaikovsky, and an unprecedented slow fourth movement that ends quietly, it was his final and greatest symphony. This ends with a great feeling of sadness and resignation. He was definitely trying something different here, says Ramadanoff.

Tchaikovsky was a man of extreme emotions. His music is music of extreme emotions. Its a gift to us. It gives us permission to feel those emotions. He had a very difficult emotional life. Extreme happiness and extreme torturealmost nothing in the middle, and thats what we get in his music, says Ramadanoff.

Celebrating his 30th season as Music Director/Conductor in 2018-19, David Ramadanoff conducts 85 YPSO young musicians who range in age from 12 to 18, and hail from 31 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. The 2018-19 season is the 82nd season since 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.


first congregational church (View)
2345 channing way
berkeley, CA 94704
United States


Arts > Performance
Music > Classical
Music > Symphony

Minimum Age: 5
Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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