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Young Artist Concert closes Imperial Valley Symphony's 27th season

April 06, 2001|By DENNIS POND, Special to this newspaper

The Imperial Valley Symphony closed its 27th concert season with the annual Young Artist Concert on Thursday evening in the Southwest Performing Arts Theatre in El Centro.

It was an enjoyable program. Opening with Gioacchino Rossini's "Overture to La Gaza Ladra, The Thieving Magpie," maestro Joel Jacklich and the orchestra set the mood for the evening. The overture is usually a medley of themes used in the opera and a chance for inexperienced audiences to hear beautiful music without having to sit through the whole opera.

Christopher Yeong is the winner of this year's Young Artist Competition, and this year the winner is young, the youngest in the competition's 26-year history. Christopher played the "Piano Concerto in D Major," composed by Franz Joseph Haydn. Christopher is an eighth-grader at Barbara Worth Junior High in Brawley. He is the clarinet section leader in the school band and plays piano in the Brawley Seventh-day Adventist Church where he is a member, and the local Lutheran church.


Christopher approaches his piano playing as a hobby but he is conscientious about it. His playing is proficient and stylistically accurate, without the physical theatrics many pianists employ. His selection of a Haydn concerto was wise. Classical style was a definite, purposeful effort to eliminate the excesses of the baroque, to simplify and streamline the music. The Haydn concerto is a good example, and Christopher's interpretation was delightfully accurate.

Christopher studies piano with Ethel Lange of Brawley. Over the 26-year history of the Young Artist Competition, nine of her students have been winners. She is the concert-mistress of the orchestra.

After the intermission, it was back to the opera, this time in the form of Georges Bizet's "Suites Nos. 1 & 2" from "Carmen." In the latter part of the 19th century, it seemed customary for French composers to compose operas set in Spain. Bizet was in vogue with "Carmen." However, the content was not considered appropriate family entertainment, even in France. The poor reception caused Bizet to sink into a depression from which he never recovered.

After his death, "Carmen" became the most popular, and most often performed, opera in history. The suites combined into one performance can be a little long for an audience, although the themes are so well known that time seems to fly, with the audience anticipating the next recognizable tune.

The orchestra had its ups and downs. There were places where intonation was a problem and occasionally rhythm between sections of instruments needed attention

There were wonderful performances from those same sections, too. The strings had some exemplary places, along with the flutes, clarinets and bassoons. One of the "joys" of orchestral brass is the anticipation of warming up at the beginning of a concert, and then sitting through most of the concert with the thought that the most exposed, technical aspects of their parts come near the end of the program. The concluding sections of the suites were the most exposed for the horns and trumpets, and they met the challenges.

Maestro Jacklich presented a musically balanced evening that was enjoyable to hear. This concert closed the season and we anticipate the last Thursday in October for the opening of the 28th season.

(Dennis Pond teaches music at Calexico High School.)

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