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Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles Presents Season-Ending Concert Series, 5/15-5/16


Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles-one of the premier education programs for young musicians ages 11-21 in Southern California-perform concerts in several locations each season, but only once in the same location on the same weekend! A festival of sorts, this unique opportunity to hear Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO), Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS) and Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensembles (PSYWE), is also the perfect sampling of these impressive musicians of tomorrow. This year, PYSWE kicks off the culminating weekend of music with "Thundering Winds," on Saturday, May 15, at 2 p.m., while PSSS and PSYO join forces for "Celebration in Sound," on Sunday, May 16, with PSSS at 2:30 p.m. and PSYO at 4 p.m.-all in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

"It has been an incredible season for the Youth Ensembles," says Mumolo. "All three groups have premiered newly commissioned works. The Youth Orchestra has successfully performed challenging major works such as Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, and the Youth Wind Ensemble participated in the American Composers Competition, impressively performing three new commissions by up-and-coming composers. And the Symphony's Santiago Strings are performing at their highest level to date."

Hot off the American Composer's Competition-PSYWE, led by Joshua Roach, performs repertoire that both inspires and thunders! The PSYWE's season concludes on Saturday, May 15, with a varied program that spotlights Gabrieli's "Canzona No. 1"; Lauridsen's choral work, "O Magnum Mysterium," arranged for band; Giroux's "La Mezquita de Cordoba"; Hansen's "Chorale and Alleluia"; and former Symphony composer-in-residence Frank Ticheli's "Shenandoah." The concert concludes with "Niagra Falls," a bright and challenging composition by this season's highly acclaimed composer-in-residence, Michael Daugherty, which features extensive wind and percussion instrumentation and includes the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ.

"My first months with the Youth Wind Ensemble have been filled with an exciting whirlwind of growth and activity," says Roach. "By the time we perform on May 15, this group of musicians will have already performed challenging music at an extremely high artistic level. They are elegantly playing music that some colleges wouldn't dare and most high schools wouldn't dream of doing.

"In addition to having premiered three new pieces this season, we are working again with our composer-in-residence Michael Daugherty to perform his work 'Niagara Falls,'" Roach continues. "Amidst all of this,we have also been working with student composers and conductors within the group, exploring musical history, theory and analysis, and even playing some chamber music. We've been quite busy!"

The Combined season finale of PSSS, led by Irene Kroesen, and PSYO, sponsored by the Cheng Family Foundation and led by the Symphony's Assistant Conductor Maxim Eshkenazy, begins at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 16, with the PSSS taking the audience on a magnificent musical journey-from the nation's colonial beginnings (Sarch's Colonial Williamsburg Odyssey) to gang wars in Manhattan (Bernstein's One Hand, One Heart from "West Side Story"), and on to the Wild, Wild West with Copland's Hoe-down from "Rodeo." Beginning at 4 p.m., PSSS joins the Youth Orchestra in a performance of what is arguably the most beautiful 11 minutes of music ever composed-Barber's "Adagio for Strings." PSYO then performs Daugherty's "Once Upon a Castle"-a charming and musically descriptive piece about the composer's time in Italy-and Shostakovich's thrilling "Fifth Symphony."

"The PSYO and the PSSS will be performing their own individual sets of literature and they will also be performing together, side-by-side on stage during the PSYO set," explains Mumolo. "There will be 100 string players on stage at one time for this powerful piece by Barber! The PSYO will then be on stage alone for works by Daugherty and Shostakovich. This is the premier youth orchestra in the county and the audience won't believe how talented they are."

"Because we are on the same program with the Santiago Strings, we are trying something new by having them play with PSYO for the Barber-just like PSYO does with Pacific Symphony every year during a family concert," says Eshkenazy. "We thought that this would be a really fun way to unify the programs, and the younger kids will get the chance to sit down with their older counterparts. It's very inspirational for them, and a great opportunity for older kids to share the knowledge they've gained. It's going to be a beautiful performance of a beautiful piece."

Focusing on music education, the Symphony's Youth Ensembles program serves the community by providing the highest level of performance opportunities available to young instrumentalists throughout Orange County. It is one of the many outstanding education programs of the Symphony. Currently, all three of PSYE's ensembles benefit from the vision of the Symphony's music director, Carl St.Clair, who serves as the artistic advisor for all activities and performances-which take place in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, as well as at other sites around Southern California. Students also enjoy a variety of interactions with Pacific Symphony musicians including sectionals, master classes, and side-by-side performances.

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Tickets are $18; to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.pacificsymphony.org. For more information about PSYE, contact Director of Youth Ensembles Dominic Mumolo at (714) 876-2346. Both concerts are part of Arts Orange County's Imagination Celebration.

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