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Saturday, February 23 , 2019, 2:23 pm | A Few Clouds 58º


Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Salutes Silver Screen

The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony will hold its final concert of the 2012-13 season at the unusual time of 7:30 p.m., on the unusual day of Friday and in the somewhat unusual venue of First Presbyterian Church, 21 E. Constance Ave.

Dos Pueblos senior and cellist Laura Baldwin will solo with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony on Friday.
Dos Pueblos senior and cellist Laura Baldwin will solo with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony on Friday.

The young musicians will be led by their music director, Andy Radford, and the featured soloist will be Dos Pueblos High School senior and cellist Laura Baldwin.

The program is bound to please. We’ll hear Franz Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No. 1 in C-Major for Cello and Orchestra, Hob. VIIb/1; two selections from the film scores of John Williams (the main theme from The Empire Strikes Back and the “March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark); and carrying on the theme of movie music, the Symmphonic Suite from Sergei Prokofiev’s score for the now-forgotten Soviet film Lieutenant Kijé (1934).

For all of the 19th century and two-thirds of the 20th, the world knew only one cello concerto by Haydn — that in D-Major, Opus 101 — and even that was often attributed to Haydn’s pupil, Anton Kraft. Then, in 1961, this C-Major work turned up in a Prague museum, and it was authenticated as a genuine work of Haydn by the Joseph Haydn Institute of Cologne.

Haydn’s concerti tend to be delightful rather than deep, and so it is with this one. Being considerably less demanding of the soloist (though plenty tricky, in spots) than the D-Major concerto, it is immensely suitable for young musicians, particularly those as gifted and well-trained as those of the Youth Symphony.

Those not completely — even excessively — familiar with Williams’ film scores are clearly living too far off the grid to be reading this, let alone contemplating this concert. Those, in whose breasts the strains of Williams’ scores do not immediately summon the shades of Darth Vader and Indiana Jones, can be sighted about as often as the ivory-billed woodpecker. I will say no more.

Prokofiev scored eight films — 10, if you count each of the three parts of Ivan the Terrible as separate films — between his return to the Soviet Union and his death there, 17 years later. Lieutenant Kijé was the first, and the music is justly beloved, but the movie itself was not much of a hit. (I have just discovered, however, that the film itself is available on the web, a “free download,” in Russian, with English subtitles, if you’re interested in hearing the music in its original context.)

The only films employing Prokofiev’s genius, which are themselves masterpieces of film art, are the ones directed by Sergei Eisenstein: Ivan the Terrible and Alexander Nevsky. Yet, I daresay that the suite from the Lieutenant Kijé score has turned many, many young people into passionate music lover — which I would prefer over critical acclaim any day.

Single tickets to the Youth Symphony concert are $14 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors over 65. They can be purchased at the door.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are his own.

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