Youth Music Monterey County launched its 2019-2020 season yesterday afternoon at Sunset Center in Carmel with a concert featuring the Junior Youth and Honors Orchestras. This concert represents a new chapter in YMMC’s history as it welcomes new Music Director and Conductor, Danko Druško, who comes to us with outstanding credentials and a wealth of experience conducting professional, university and youth orchestras throughout Europe and North America.
Youth Music Monterey County is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has every reason to be proud of its success and growth from its humble beginnings in its early years to the stable, well funded, community supported enterprise it has become. We remember well its first concerts 30 years ago in the auditorium at Santa Catalina School where there was hardly any audience except the families of the young performers, and fund raising was virtually non existent. The initial selections by the Junior Youth Orchestra 30 years ago were delayed almost fifteen minutes as members of the audience waited patiently for the teachers of the participants coming out on stage to help the students tune their instruments. Over the intervening years we have observed the natural progression of young talented students starting out in the Junior Youth Orchestra and moving to the Honors Orchestra with its more demanding repertoire. Their performance on this occasion was an outstanding example of the progress in professionalism and preparation that has evolved over the years.
It was heartwarming yesterday afternoon to hear the youngest players in the Junior Youth Orchestra with Concertmaster Emily Kim giving us very presentable renditions of Mozart’s Overture to The Abduction from the Seraglio, Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s apprentice and the familiar Procession of the Sardar from Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches. What a pleasant surprise it also was to hear Junior Youth Orchestra 2019 Competition Winner, 13-year-old violinist Rose Finn, a pupil of violinist David Dally, performing the Allegro non troppo movement of the Violin Concerto No. 2 by Friedrich Seitz. We heard an amazingly poised and confident young girl playing with a technical mastery and musical finesse that was a great credit to her and her teacher.
After intermission we heard the YMMC Honors Orchestra, a larger ensemble than the Junior Youth Orchestra that included expanded wind and brass sections. In addition to Concertmaster Lance Yang Bauer we heard during the final portion of the program fine solos by wind and brass players, as well as solos by Concertmaster Lance Bauer and harpist Tara Ragsdale-Cronin.
In this portion of the program we weren’t hearing dumbed-down student compositions, but rather substantial major works that in performance would have been the pride of any youth orchestra — Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, Emmanuel Chabrier’s España, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espanol.
Conductor Druško is to be congratulated for having in a few short months having brought the players to the high standard we heard yesterday afternoon. Praise must also be extended to YMMC President Dorothy Micheletti and Executive Director Suzanne Mudge for their invaluable work all year long that makes it possible
It is always pleasing to see the support from the community that not only funds YMMC but manages to make possible performances in a professional concert hall, rather than in school auditoriums or gymnasiums, as has happened with other youth orchestras.
Three cheers for YMMC!