Conventional wisdom holds that the audience for classical music is graying and the young are uninterested, but the exact opposite was on display Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.
The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony presented its final concert of the season, with Andy Radford on the podium. Along with serving as musical director of the Youth Symphony, Radford is principal bassoonist with the full Santa Barbara Symphony and is a member of the music faculty at both UCSB and Westmont College.
Some 60 players, ages 12 to 20, comprise the youth group, exhibiting polish with selections from the symphonic repertoire that were anything but childish. Among the pieces performed was a portion of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in E-flat major No. 2, K 417,” in which the solo part was played by Cameron Wray, 17, a student at El Camino High School in Ventura. This piece is known for its difficulty and Wray performed it with aplomb.
The concert began with “Pomp and Circumstance No. 4, Op. 89,” by Edward Elgar, the piece that most of us heard played at our high school graduations. Here, its British formality was evident along with its association with grand events — it has often accompanied the appearances of Queen Elizabeth II.
The first half of the program concluded with the “March to the Scaffold” from “Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14,” by Hector Berlioz. To say that this music is ahead of its time is an understatement. Written in the early 19th century, it is surreal, sardonic and unforgettable — all qualities plain to hear in this rendition.
After intermission, the orchestra played the Suite from “The Watermusic” of Georg Frideric Handel, arranged by Hamilton Harty. Here, the orchestra moved seamlessly from sardonic Berlioz to Handel’s stately music meant to accompany English aristocrats floating down the Thames on a barge.
Three trumpeters from the orchestra — Nicholas Scarvelis, Harison Swalley and Nik Valinksy — took center stage to play “The Bugler’s Holiday” by American composer Leroy Anderson. This music called on the young men to provide skill, fortitude and breath control, and they obliged charmingly.
The closing work was “The Moldau” from “Ma Vlast,” by Bedrich Smetana. This sumptuous music was composed in celebration of the Czech composer’s homeland and its storied river. Smetana meant for it to move the hearts of its hearers; the Youth Symphony provided more than enough soul-stirring artistry.
Click here for more information about the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony.