Bartok, Beethoven, Mozart and Rachmaninoff. That’s only a sampling of what’s on the program for another ambitious concert by the San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Sunday afternoon at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center, and again Monday evening in Durango’s Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, three groups of young musicians will show us what they’ve been working on all winter.
The Junior Orchestra, co-directed by Mark Walser and Shannon Fontenot, will open with a march and shift to a work titled “Afterthoughts” by Brian Balmages. Each of the three movements has been inspired by a great composer: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Bartok.
The Junior Orchestra includes the youngest musicians in the program. Ages range from 9 through middle school. Walser is completing his second year co-leading the ensemble with Fontenot, who is rounding out her 13th year. Both teach in area elementary schools.
The Youth Philharmonic, directed by Molly Jensen from the Durango High School Music Department, will open with “Three Masterpieces from the French Baroque,” arranged by Stephen Chin. The ensemble will follow with excerpts from Schumann’s “Scenes from Childhood.” An excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Act II will close the section.
Lech Usinowicz, director of the program and conductor of the most senior ensemble, will lead the musicians in beloved and familiar works such as the “Vocalise” by Rachmaninov, and the Rondo from Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”
The Youth Symphony will also premiere the first movement of Indigo Farmer’s Symphony in D minor. Farmer, 18, is a senior at DHS who also studies music at FLC. A chamber work of hers was recently performed by the Red Shoe Piano Trio at FLC.
This year’s concerto competition winner, Aidan Shaffer, 17, will close the program by performing the first movement of Haydn’s Concerto No. 1 in C major with the full orchestra.
Shaffer recently performed with various chamber groups in the annual Bach Festival at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. He’s a senior in high school and has been home-schooled since kindergarten. In the fall, he plans to attend Biola University in California as a music (cello) major, attending on music and academic scholarships.
Like Farmer, Shaffer has studied with FLC music faculty.
Designed for young musicians in the Four Corners, SYSYO rehearses throughout the academic year and performs only twice – late winter and spring. This is the first year SJSYO has presented twin concerts in Bayfield and Durango.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.