Rafael Vasquez & Megan Tang – violins, Antón de la Fuente – piano,
Benjamen Sterwerf – viola and Kim Kistler – cello
When Youth Music Monterey County puts on a concert, it really does it in style! In its Chamber Players Benefit Concert at Hidden Valley last night, the hall was packed, and the 26-page printed program gave ample credit to just about everybody — the players, the sponsors and Hidden Valley Seminars, which provides the venue. The performers gave us an excellent concert, and then to top to all there was a splendiferous reception with so much food and wine at a very long table it looked like “The Last Supper.”
Every time I attend a YMMC concert I am reminded of the progress the organization has made over the past 30 years. The young performers are more motivated, better trained and coached, the organizational staff and donors have developed a more generous and efficient support group, and the quality of the music performed continues to get ever more professional and challenging.
We were hearing La crème de la crème of the YMMC Honors Orchestra players in this concert — violinists Jane Chen, Rafael Vasquez Guevara, Megan Tang & Michelle Vu; violists Benjamen Sterwerf & Tristan Parker-Lusseau; cellist Kim Kistler; flutist Olive De Luca plus pianists Antón de la Fuente and Jasmine Mitchell. These are very accomplished young musicians who undoubtedly are just as dedicated to their academic studies as they are in their musical accomplishments. Incidentally, a special mention has to be made of cellist Kim Kistler, for although the musicians changed their mix with each work on the program, Kim Kistler was out there playing in every ensemble.
The program last night consisted of the first movement of Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor, the second movement of Debussy’s Piano Trio in G major (written when he was 18 years old), the first movement of Bruckner’s String Quintet in F Major, the second movement of Lowell Liebermann’s Trio No. 1 for Flute, Cello and Piano, Joaquin Turina’s La Oración del Torro and ended with Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major for Two Flutes, Strings and Basso Continuo, Op. 47/2. These are challenging works and their performances exhibited some masterful playing of which the players should feel considerable pride.
We hear the word “infrastructure” used in many different ways, and mention of it here deserves to be made, for YMMC President Dorothy Micheletti, Vice President Peter Meckel, Conductor Farkhad Khudyev, Chamber Players Music Director Erica Horn and YMMC’s Officers and Directors all need to be praised for the way they have made YMMC a significant force in our community. And, of course, without the generous support of YMMC’s “Donor Families, these young players might be performing seated on squeaky folding chairs in a moldy gymnasium at a local school instead of the exciting venue of Hidden Valley.