As promised, the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association delivers an Orchestrapalooza

The VYOA presented its snow-delayed December 16, 2007 show last Sunday, January 13, at the Flynn Center to a truly sold out house -- 1436 tickets -- according to Caroline Whiddon, Executive Director of the organization. The old saying about delaying gratification applied here for certain, because the audience and the students were at peak readiness for the concert, which really was an Orchestrapalooza -- as advertised. The program order ran from one of the beginning groups of the VYOA, the Vermont Youth Strings under the direction of David Gusakov. This young group of string players did particularly well on the fifth movement, an allegro, from the Concerto Grosso in D major by Handel. They performed well, and with a nascent sense of the need to listen to one another in an orchestral surrounding. Zina Ward, oboe, was the senior soloist accompanied by a hand-picked string section from the Vermont Youth Orchestra. She played a Concerto for a while and strings by Alessandro Marcello. She had a beautiful limpid line in the slow movement, and made the first movement, marked Andante e spiccato, and a concluding Presto incisive rhythmically. The orchestra, under the conductor ship of Troy Peters, Music Director of the VYOA, laid a smooth background for the soloist, and answered each rhythmic gesture of the oboe in kind. As has been the case with other senior soloists, Ward showed great confidence and certain knowledge of her instrument -- a very difficult instrument to play -- and produced elegant sound throughout the concerto. The Vermont Youth Sinfonia, the first mixed group -- and by mixed, I mean containing all of the choirs of the orchestra -- again with Peters on board, did quite a good job with their selections. Music by Dvorak and Arthur Sullivan were appropriately played. The Ralph Vaughn Williams piece was, I think, ill chosen, at least for this group, because it seemed to me to be beyond their emotional ken. Just a thought. After intermission, Anne Decker conducted the Vermont Youth Philharmonia in the concert of works by Victor Herbert, Bizet and Brahms. Ross Kelley, the concert master for this organization, showed particular aplomb in exercising his duties. The Brahms -- the Academic Festival Overture -- suffered from rhythmic problems in the beginning, and this tentativeness in the horn section seems slightly to infect the whole performance, especially since the Herbert and Bizet had been so well performed. The VYO chorus and an orchestra combined from all of the members of the other groups joined together to perform "And the Glory of the Lord", which Jeffrey Buettner conducted, and Leroy Anderson's ever-popular "Sleigh Ride". Buettner had done his work well in training the chorus, all the parts singing with appropriate clarity of diction and precision of pitch in the Handel selection. All but the Sopranos were hard to hear in the Anderson piece. It was a wonderful afternoon of music, and I was distinctly aware of the distances this organization has come in the field of instrumental and now choral music since Peters and Whiddon have been managing the VYOA. To keep the audience from getting bored during the obviously well rehearsed and well-planned changes in personnel on stage, three members of the VYO Rebekah Gordon, Zoe Senecal and Mark Fitzgerald -- each read their reflections upon what their association with the VYOA meant to them in their life. These three young musicians proved truly adept both at writing and at presenting their thoughts to the audience there. It was a terrific idea beautifully realized. I hope they use it again when there are necessarily changes in personnel on the stage that need to be covered. It was a great afternoon! Briefly noted
Vermont Stage will open its production of John Patrick Shanley's new one-word-titled play Doubt starting January 23 and running through February 3 -- tickets at the Flynn box office, with information available at 862-1497 This coming Sunday, January 20, the VYO will perform with the acclaimed Amelia Piano Trio to premiere a new triple Concerto written by frequent VYO collaborator, Daron Hagen. For information contact the VYO office at 655-5030. Also upcoming is a performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis by the VSO chorus and Orchestra with soloists, all under the direction of Robert De Cormier (of interest is that Arianna Zukerman will be the soprano soloist. She is a member of an illustrious family of musicians including sister Natalia, who appeared on The Lane Series earlier this season in a quite different setting -- musically speaking that is, as well as father Pinchas and mother Eugenia). Shelburne resident and pianist Paul Orgel will give a faculty recital at the UVM Redstone Recital Hall on Friday, January 25 at 7:30 p.m. -- his program includes works by Janecek, Scriabin, Chopin and Franz Schubert. Admission is free. In Montr_, there will be a combined Klezmer and classical music concert on Sunday evening, January 20 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be given at Congregation Dorshei Emet. For information about the concert and directions to the synagogue, call: 514-486-9400. Also in Montr_, two upcoming dates: Houdini, a musical, will be on the stage at the Leonor and Alvin Segal Theatre from February 10 through March 2. For info about performance times and tickets, call 514-739-7944. LOp_ de Montr_ is about to unveil its third production, Rossini's comic masterpiece The Barber of Seville on February 2 at 8 p.m. in the main theater at Place des Arts. There will be five other performances, including a matinee at 2 p.m. on February 16 -- for tickets and information call 514-985-2258.

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