Youth Music Monterey at Sunset Center

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YMMC Music Director & Conductor Farkhad Khudyev

Those of us with long memories can remember back thirty years to the beginnings of what evolved into Youth Music Monterey County. The early concerts took place in the auditorium of Santa Catalina School, and during the first half hour of each concert the audience had to wait patiently while local string teachers shuffled around on stage helping young players tune their instruments. How times have changed. Yesterday afternoon we observed members of the Junior Youth Orchestra, not only able to tune their own instruments, but also exhibiting higher levels of skill only dreamed of a quarter of a century earlier. And instead of a school auditorium, YMMC concerts now take place in a true concert hall — Carmel’s Sunset Center with a capacity audience.

In addition to the Junior Youth Orchestra, yesterday afternoon’s concert also featured older students in the YMMC Honors Orchestra and members of Youth Orchestra Salinas (Yosal), so basically we are talking about three separate orchestras. But wait… there’s more. Many of these young players not only take part in rehearsals and performances of YMMC orchestral concerts, but also participate in smaller ensembles. The printed program listed the members (with photos) of the YMMC Chamber Players, the Brass Ensemble and the Wind Ensemble.

Since there is so much music making going on under the umbrella of YMMC, the young musicians are fortunate to have expert guidance and enthusiastic support, not only from Music Director & Conductor Farkhad Khudyev, but also from an expert team of coaches: Erica Horn, Suzanne Mudge, Dorothy Wu, Jonathan Orzell and Hillary Orzel McSherry. The afternoon’s concert yesterday featured the theme “Passionate Nature” with a program of music prominently associated with water — a rarely heard work “Lake at Sunset” by Quinto Paganini, “The Enchanted Lake” by Anatoly Lyadov, and ending with Smetana’s beloved work “The Moldau.”

The Junior Youth Orchestra (with members of Yosal) began the concert with Dvořák’s “Bohemian Dance,” an orchestral arrangement of the final movement of Dvořák’s Sonatina for Violin and Piano, Op. 100, and ended their set with a rousing performance of that old favorite Khachaturian’s “Sabe Dance.” It was an heartwarming sight to see so many young orchestral players playing very well indeed, but also seeming to be inspired by the music itself.

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Violinist Jonathan Vu

After intermission young violinist Jonathan Vu, a high school senior and this year’s winner of the YMMC Annual Honors Orchestra Competition, performed the first movement of Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Honors Orchestra. Vu gave us a spirited performance with lots of romantic intensity and a lovely tone that made us wish we could hear him perform the other movements (especially the Gypsy-like finale).

One of the great surprises on the program was “The Enchanted Lake” by Anatoly Lyadov, which I was hearing for the first time. What a beautiful and mysterious tone poem this is —  full of quiet magical colors and intense post romanticism that may have influenced Rachmaninoff’s “Isle of the Dead.” The Youth Honors Orchestra sounded superb in this piece, and Khudyev’s expert direction gave us a lovely slow and drawn out ending that had us holding our breath way past the cessation of the last sounds.

The concert ended with a lush performance of Smetana’s “The Moldau.” It was a passionate and intense performance that brought the audience to its feet for a rousing standing ovation. We can be very proud of our young musicians. By any standard this was a class act.


Archived in these categories: 20th Century, Orchestral, Romantic Era.
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