YPSO Winter Concert Feb. 25 in Berkeley

The Young People’s Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) Winter 2023 Concert will feature young musicians performing Rainbow Body by Theofanidis, Selections from Suites 1 & 2 of Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. Also, violin soloist Richard O’Donnell, who is one of YPSO’s concertmasters this season, will be playing the first movement of the Violin Concerto by Khachaturian.

This year YPSO celebrates its 86th season and Maestro David Ramadanoff’s 34th season as Music Director/Conductor. He will be conducting 98 young musicians who range in age from 11 to 21, and hail from many Bay Area cities. According to YPSO Manager Nadia Liu, “this orchestra is full of talented young musicians who perform at a professional level. The amount of effort they put into practicing their craft really shows! And it’s a treat to hear.”

All the pieces in the YPSO Winter 2023 Concert were composed in the 20th century. They will open with the most contemporary of the bunch – Christopher Theofanidis’s Rainbow Body, which premiered in 2000. According to the composer, it was “built … on a fragment of music of the Medieval mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, and her music was being “absorbed” back into my musical universe…”. The piece in reference is a 12th century melody “Ave Maria, o auctrix vite”.

YPSO students will perform eight movements from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet – From Suite 1 – Minuet, Masks, Romeo and Juliet, Death of Tybalt. From Suite 2 – Montagues and Capulets, The Child Juliet, Romeo at Juliet’s Before Parting, Romeo at the Grave of Juliet. This is the orchestral music from the ballet for which Prokofiev composed. During their rehearsals, the young musicians received a well-rounded lesson around the performance of the music and how it ties to the story in the ballet.

This concert will also feature a soloist – one of YPSO’s 22-23 Concerto Competition Winners, Richard O’Donnell, performing the First Movement of the Violin Concerto by A. Khachaturian.

Richard began his violin studies at age 4. In addition to YPSO, he is in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Pre-College Division, where he currently studies with William Barbini and Pamela Freund-Striplen. When he
is not playing music, he enjoys biking, reading BBC Music Magazine, listening to KDFC, and running with his friends on the school cross-country and track teams. Richard was inspired to learn the Khachaturian Violin Concerto by his mother, who performed the piece as a soloist on the flute with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra in 1987.

This season, YPSO is changing their concert start time. Please note the new earlier time of 7:30 p.m. of YPSO concerts in order accommodate their audiences and their commute home.

For YPSO’s Covid-Safety protocols this season, they are asking that audiences stay masked while indoors.

Founded in Berkeley in 1936, YPSO is the oldest youth orchestra in California and the first independent youth orchestra in the nation. The 2022-23 season is the 86th since violinist and conductor Jessica Marcelli founded YSPO at the suggestion of Clarabelle Bell, an amateur harpist and Berkeley resident, who got the idea after hearing the Portland Junior Symphony.

YPSO’s mission is to “encourage young people to become exemplary musicians and young musicians to become exemplary people”. The organization puts on four regular concerts per season. In addition, they reach out through programs such as Bread and Roses and the Bay Area Music Project to bring music into the lives of the surrounding community and encourage the civic development of its students. YPSO will also host a free open dress rehearsal program on Friday February 24th, 2023, 6pm for families with children ages 12 and under, and elementary/middle school classes accompanied by a teacher. Contact YPSO to make arrangements at


YPSO is funded in part by the Berkeley Civic Arts Grant, Kiwanis Club of Berkeley, Alameda County Arts Commission, individual and foundation donors, and the friends and families of YPSO students.

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