Imamyar Hasanov & Farkhad Khudyev
World Music came to Youth Music Monterey County in a big way yesterday afternoon as Youth Music Monterey County (YMMC) presented its first concert of the season at Sunset Center. Music Director and Conductor Farkhad Khudyev, enjoying his second season with YMMC, planned a demanding program for us that included a Dvořák Slavonic Dance, Ravel’s “Pavane for a Dead Princess,” and Sibelius’s “Finlandia” played with spirit by the Junior Youth Orchestra on the first half of the program. After intermission we heard the Honors Orchestra performing two highly effective pieces of music from Azerbaijan (both works were California premiers) featuring Imamyar Hasanov, a virtuoso on the Kamancha, an ancient bowed string instrument of Persian origin that is one of the ancestors of the modern violin. Hasanov is also Global Music Director for the San Francisco World Music Festival.
YMMC consists of two orchestras – The Junior Youth Orchestra and the Honors Orchestra all together consisting of approximately 100 young orchestra players between the ages of 4 and 18, who are students in local schools on the Monterey Peninsula. It is not merely age that determines whether a young orchestra player is positioned in the Junior Youth or Honors Orchestra, but a combination of talent, dedication, instrumental mastery and musicianship skills. It was noted in the printed program that the Honors Orchestra contained some players who were junior in age but selected for the Honors Orchestra as “Junior Youth Orchestra Ringers” because of their outstanding abilities. It was also observed that there were a few players in the Junior Youth Orchestra old enough to qualify for the Honors Orchestra, but probably lacking the necessary instrumental mastery as well as advanced rhythmic and reading skills.
By any standard, these young musicians played with great enthusiasm and surprisingly advanced skills. The final work on the program, a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, brought the house down with thundering applause and a standing ovation for the young musicians. It is a great tribute to our community that YMMC, now in its 25th year, has flourished as an organization that is well staffed and highly regarded, even though, like all classical music presenters, it is engaged in a perpetual struggle for funding.
Music Director Khudyev has to be admired, not only for his musical skills (and he is as accomplished as a violinist as he is as a conductor), but also for his skill in finding increasing support in the community. Special kudos go to Nancy Selfridge, Council Member for the Monterey City Council, who became the moving force to establish a relationship with Azerbaijan and to have Monterey adopted as a sister city to Lankaran, a seaside city that has much in common with Monterey. In the audience during today’s performance was Rafig Rustanov, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Concertmaster Peter Mellinger & Mark Stone
We observed after intermission some additional honors bestowed on YMM. Mark Stone, representing the 29th Senate District of the California State Legislature, appeared on stage to present to the YMMC Concert Master Peter Mellinger a Certificate of Recognition from Jane Parker, Supervisor of the 4th District of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors and also a Certificate of Recognition from William W. Monning, 17th Senate District, California State Legislature.
And what did the audience think of the featured works on the program from Azerbaijan and the virtuosity of the featured soloist, Imamyar Hasanov? They were most impressed and moved by the performances. This is exotic music based on Arab modes and scales with lively rhythms that are very appealing. The sound of the Kamancha and its repertoire is fascinating, and I hope, now that Monterey is a sister city, we can expect a reengagement in the not too distant future.