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Gerald Carpenter: Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Plays Ravel, Schubert and Shostakovich

Violinist Katrina Schaefer stars as guest soloist as 'Winter Concert' comes early on Sunday

Andy Radford will be holding a somewhat smaller piece of wood when he conducts the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony on Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.
Andy Radford will be holding a somewhat smaller piece of wood when he conducts the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony on Sunday at the Lobero Theatre.

The event that the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is somewhat prematurely calling its “Winter Concert” takes place at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lobero Theatre. The 60 young musicians (aged 12-20) will perform under the baton of their mentor and music director, conductor Andy Radford, with the award-winning violinist, 17-year old Katrina Schaefer, as guest soloist.

The program will consist of Maurice Ravel’s Concert Rhapsody “Tzigane” for Violin and Orchestra, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No.8 in b-minor, D. 759, “Unfinished” and the rousing Fourth Movement Finale from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5 in d-minor, Opus 47.

Katrina Marie Schaefer, the soloist in the Ravel, was born in Oxnard. In 2005, she became the youngest ever winner of the Santa Barbara Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Grand Prize. Currently, Katrina is a scholarship student and senior music major at the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute at the Crossroads School in Santa Monica.

“Tzigane” is the generic European term for “Gypsy.” Ravel’s piece was commissioned by and dedicated to the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Arányi, great-niece of Joseph Joachim. The original instrumentation was for violin and piano, with the optional attachment of something called a “luthéal” — a piano attachment, patented in 1919, with several tone-colour registrations that could be engaged by pulling stops above the keyboard.

One of the registrations had a kind of Gypsy sound to it that went well with the Romany flavor of the composition. D’Arányi herself gave the first performance in London, on April 26, 1924, accompanied by pianist Henri Gil-Marchex, who employed the luthéal. As was the case with Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata, Ravel’s Rhapsody was exponentially more popular than the odd instrumental device for which it was composed. Ravel had, in any case, written a concertante arrangement by the end of 1924, and this proved even more popular than the piano-violin version. It is this version we will hear this Sunday.

Tickets to the Youth Symphony are $15 (adults), $10 (students and seniors) and free (pre-school). They are available at the Lobero box office, 33 E. Canon Perdido, 805.963.0761.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer.

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