Justin Khoi Vu & the Junior Youth Orchestra
It was a full house at Sunset Center Sunday afternoon as Youth Music Monterey County with conductor Farkhad Khudyev presented its final concert of the 2014-2015 season.The concert was titled “Discovery of Central Asia” and was dedicated to the hard working, committed music teachers who prepare and inspire the young musicians making up the Youth and Honors orchestras.
The concert began with Dances from the Danserye by Tylman Susato performed by a brass choir followed by the Finale of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2 in C featuring the YMMC Junior Youth Orchestra with members of “South County Strings and Orchestra in the Schools.” These are very young players, who don’t always play exactly in tune but who exhibit an infectious enthusiasm that carries the day and warms our hearts.
A special feature of the first half of the program was a performance by the 2015 Junior Youth Concerto Competition, Justin Khoi Vu, a pupil of Rose Marie Dunsford. Vu played the first movement of the Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor by Jean-Baptiste Accolay, in a rousing performance that earned him a storm of applause and a standing ovation.
Continuing the ambiance of Central Asian music we heard a performance by the Junior Youth Orchestra of Turkish Fragments by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov. Listening to this work I could imagine tribes in the dessert and a camel caravan.
After intermission we heard some of the most polished playing of the afternoon as a string quartet composed of violinists Steve Yoo & Eunice Rhee, violist Kim Kistler and cellist Ari Freedman (drawn from the YMMC Chamber Players) performed Italian Serenade by Hugo Wolf. Those of us more familiar with the songs of Hugo Wolf than his Italian Serenade were pleased to hear some lovely music performed with flair and impressive mastery.
To end the program we heard the YMMC Honors Orchestra perform Borodin’s “In the Steppes of Central Asia” and the United States Premiere of a new work by Nury Halmamedov, a 23-minute piece in five movements. Its first movement introduction featured an effective use of oboe and brass at the beginning and a lovely oboe solo accompanied by harp at the end. The very brief second movement, “Dance of the Shepherds” in 5/8 time exploited some effective percussion writing. The third movement “Dance of Girls” had some lovely dark sounds and long flowing melodies that were reminiscent of Rachmaninoff. The fourth movement, “Dutar” utilized an effective use of brass, woodwinds, tambourin and a lovely flute solo by Emma Arago from Notre Dame High School.
The Halmamedov work is very well crafted, beautifully orchestrated and was magnificently performed by Khudyev and the YMMC Honors Orchestra. At its conclusion we observed another standing ovation and prolonged applause from an appreciative audience.
YMMC President Dorothy Micheletti and Executive Director Vanisha Evans Douvon came on stage at the end of the concert to make some very special awards — Outstanding volunteers: the Ozeta and Wendlikowski families; Outstanding Alumnus: Michael Blackburn; Graduating Senior Awards: George Haugen & Eunice Rhee; Pam & Chuck Mcgowan Memorial Scholarship: Eunice Rhee & Ari Freedman; Ruth Fenton Music Scholar Award: George Hougen; Adel & Adelya Award: Steve Yoo.
It was an uplifting experience to see these talented young music students coming together in a very professional venue several times a year to make music on a very high level. In the lobby of Sunset Center there was a silent auction of items donated by well wishers, and outside after the performance there was a reception for the students, their parents and the dedicated, hardworking teachers.
May this tradition continue be with us forever.