Although this is usually a busy time of year, this last week was inordinately busy, beginning on Sunday, Sept. 23 with the Vermont Youth Orchestra concert. So let's begin with the beginning and bring you up to date on what's been going on around town.
The VYO concert had as a general theme In Natures Realm, a translation of one of the titles of a piece by Antonin Dvorak - convincingly played, by the way. For me, the highlights of the afternoon, however, were not the composers, but the two young soloists who appeared on the program.
Before intermission, Katherine Jordan, a graduating senior from Vergennes High School, played Richard Strausss Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major for horn and orchestra, Op. 11. It was a remarkably accurate and spirited accounting of this Concerto, made doubly so by the way Jordan acquitted herself onstage -- if there was any stage fright, it was imperceptible because of her poise and her accuracy of tone throughout the entire concerto. If there is an instrument of the orchestra that is difficult to play -- especially difficult to play -- the horn (a.k.a. the French horn) is that instrument. Kudos to this young woman, who also recorded a program on the popular show From the Top, which was taped in Randolph on Saturday, Sept. 29. I'll let you know when it's going to be aired on VPR. I understand Jordan is committed to a career in music. If she remains musically astute and relatively unflappable on stage, she will certainly achieve her goal.
The second soloist was Benjamin Green, who played the Concerto in F-sharp minor for Double Base and orchestra, Op. 3, by Serge Koussevitzky. Green also showed a great deal of poise, and a fine sensitivity for pitch in the high positions that he was required to play. Given the tension that certainly must exist for a young soloist to attempt such a concerto for such an instrument, Green also did a remarkable job in playing Concerto. The rest of the program was formed from pieces by Copland and Richard Wagner Jordan played the famous horn calls during this second-half piece, and she played them with great style and accuracy. There was a new piece by Peter Hamlin for the string section of the orchestra called Manitou Rising. It is definitely a mood piece, well-crafted, and a good piece for a young orchestra to play. Last year's graduating class from the orchestra contained a goodly number of fine string players. The piece by Hamlin indicated that Troy Peters, Music Director and Conductor, must feel the loss of these more seasoned players but fear not, the string players group pitch will improve as Peters works his usual magic with them.It was a worthwhile concert, even on a balmy September afternoon.