On a sunny Sunday afternoon it was a capacity audience that turned out for the first concert of the 2017-2018 Youth Music Monterey County season at Sunset Center. The parking lot was full and the lobby was jammed with people waiting to be let in to the theater.
The concert began with Conductor Farkhad Khudyev leading the YMMC Junior Youth Orchestra in a performance of brief works by three composers active in the former Soviet Union – Lev Knipper, Dimitry Kabalevksy and Aram Khachaturian. Perhaps you have never of Lev Knipper, but I can assure you that if you heard the melody of Knipper’s “Meadowlands,” you would recognize it immediately. It has a very striking beginning with percussion effects imitating the sound of clopping hooves of horses approaching from the distance and fading into the “Meadowlands” theme. After it reaches its climax the melody begins to diminish and we hear the clopping of hooves once more, with the Red Army cavalry passing off into the distance. If this sounds like movie music, you would be correct, for its origin was from Soviet propaganda films.
The Junior Youth Orchestra continued with charming renditions of a Polka by Kabalevsky and Khachaturian’s “Dance of the Rose Maidens, and finshed the first half of the program with the challenging fourth movement of the Symphony No. 2 by Jean Sibelius. We really have to admire what these young musicians have achieved –- plus we are grateful for the support of their teachers and parents.
After intermission we heard the most anticipated event of the afternoon – the return appearance of violin prodigy Nicholas Brady. Nicholas achieved distinction in a Carmel Bach Festival youth concert in 2013 and as a concerto soloist with YMMC in 2014. In the past three years Nicholas has covered himself with glory by winning a few competitions and performing in several prestigious venues, one of which was Carnegie Hall.
On this occasion Nicholas was featured soloist in Kabalevsky’s Violin Concerto in C Major performing with the YMMC Honors Orchestra. For nearly 18 minutes, Nicholas kept us enthralled as he gave us a performance full of energy and passion, while displaying a remarkably masterful technique for someone as young as eight years old. From a small half-size violin Nicholas managed to get enough rich and powerful tone to hold his own against an orchestra of over 40 players. Accolades and a standing ovation brought several bouquets to the stage (almost more than he could handle) and the hopes that Nicholas will be back sometime in the future.
The concert ended with the YMMC Music Director and Conductor Khudyev leading the YMMC Honors Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. This is an ambitious project, but such a great piece of music that it will change the life of the young musicians performing it, for this was a performance they will always remember.
The members of the Honors Orchestra did themselves proud. Although there were several amongst the ensemble who had prominent solos, especially flute and horn, there were multiple players for both these instruments, so I was unable toidentify the soloists.
YMMC is a great community asset and kudos are deserved by all those who encourage and support it.