Soloist Elijah Turk & Farkhad Khudyev
A huge audience turned out at Sunset Center yesterday afternoon (even the balcony was full) to enjoy another highly successful Youth Music Monterey County (YMMC) concert with Music Director & Conductor Farkhad Khudyev leading the Junior Youth and Honors Orchestra in a program called “Exoticism in Music.” Also joining the young YMMC players were young musicians from Youth Orchestra Salinas (YOSAL). President of YMMC, Dorothy Micheletti, came to the stage before the concert began to greet the audience and thank the donors for their generous support. She also announced that YMMC had been awarded a 2017 Champion of the Arts Award by the Arts Council for Monterey County.
As always it is impressive to see the young children in the Junior Youth Orchestra take their places on stage, tune up and play their hearts out. Although they may not yet have attained the precision of intonation and mastery of their instruments to the same degree that the older musicians already have, we know that within the next few years they will have matured and advanced to the Honors Orchestra to play at ever more professional levels. The works the young players performed were “The Procession of the Sardar” by Ippolitov-Ivanov, Grieg’s Arabian Dance and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Fantasia on Serbian Themes, and it was impressive.
After intermission the YMMC Honors Orchestra took to the stage and led off with Alexandre Guilmant’s Morceau Symphonique featuring trombonist Elijah Taurke as soloist. Taurke was the winner of the 2016 YMMC Concerto Competition, and this is the first time a trombonist has ever won the YMMC Concerto Competition. Actually, it was most probably a first for the audience as well, for who amongst us even knew there were concertos written for trombone? But, when we heard his solid and polished playing, we instantly knew why he had been selected as the winner last year. Gorgeous melodies and some impressive difficult-sounding passages demonstrated that Taurke is already at his young age a master of his instrument.
Elija, a freshman at Pacific Grove High School, has been playing trombone since the age of eight when he started with the OITS (Orchestra in the Schools) program. Elijah is very generous in praising his teachers, Dana Vivit, Alex Bedner, Carl Christensen and his present teacher Suzanne Mudge, although most of the credit should go to him for his dedication and commitment to music.
The concert ended with three movements from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade: The Sea & Sinbad’s Ship, The Young Prince & the Young Princess, and The Kalendar Prince. This demanding work for orchestra has a lot of opportunities for individual players to shine, and shine they did. Concert master Megan Tang had some prominent solos and did herself proud with some commanding playing, as did clarinetist Daniel Hernandez, flutist Olive De Luca, cellist Kim Kistler, bassoonist Alan Truong, oboist Danylo Didoszak and harpist Isabelle Sanford.
We have to marvel at the fine work music Director Farkhad Khudyey has achieved. Some people may be under the impression that his artistry is somehow connected to the manner in which he waves his little stick during a concert, but musicians know that what really happens on stage during a concert has less to do with “stick technique” than what happens in rehearsal. This is where the true mastery begins and ends. From the selection of appropriate music to working out all the details of blending the various sections of the orchestra — this is where the magic happens, and Farkhad Khudyev is obviously very good at it. We are fortunate to have him in our community.