A week when there are scheduled both KSO Youth Orchestra and Masterworks concerts is a great opportunity to witness Classical Music's present and its future. This week has given us the future first, with Youth Orchestra concerts having taken place at the Tennessee Theatre on Monday, Nov. 16, and the Masterworks at the same venue on Thursday (tomorrow) and Friday at 7:30.
The all-Russian Masterworks concerts this week feature Rodion Schchedrin's “Naughty Limericks” (Concerto No. 1 for Orchestra), Tchaikovsky's timeless Piano Concerto in B♭, and Rachmaninov’s rarely heard Symphony No. 3. Schchedrin, whose consonant-rich name is pronounced “Shed-rin,” has given us a zany whizbang of a work which musically depicts the type of folk poems called chastushki that were the underground poetry critical of the Bolshevik Revolution. No type of sound was out-of-bounds for Schchedrin, including string players tapping bows on their stands, horn players spanking their mouthpieces, and all manner of prepared piano techniques. Listen for the contrabassoon’s highly amusing part during a vamp, you won’t be able to keep from chuckling.
Pianist Stewart Goodyear will follow with an up-tempo performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. This and the Rachmaninov symphony that follow intermission are just brimmimng with Russian romantic content, and Music Director guest candidate Shizuo Kuwahara (who goes by “Z”) will bring it all together in style. In the Rachmaninov, the second theme of the first movement and the solo violin melody that opens the second movement are tunes you may have heard on a record entitled "The World's 100 Most Beautiful Melodies," but a new beautiful tune is just around the corner in both works.
On a night when Donald Trump was causing a stir inside the Convention Center and protesters were stirring a cause outside of it, the KSYO kids were making music at the Tennessee. The five ensembles got to play on the big stage, and in so doing captivated their audience. What a wonderful room in which to hear music...
A proud moment for KSO bassist Dan Thompson, who helps out in the Youth Orchestras. He got to sit right behind his son, Nicolas. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The conductors of the five KSYO ensembles; l to r, Kathy Hart, James Fellenbaum, Nina Missildine Mikos, Gabe Lefkowitz and Erin Tipton Archer.
KSO Principal Horn Jefferey Whaley works weekly with the brass section of the Youth Orchestra proper. Bravo, guys!