YPSO Spring Concert to feature Brahms, Ravel, and more

Saturday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m. | First Congregational Church of Berkeley | 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley

The Young People’s Symphony Orchestra (YPSO) Spring 2023 Concert will feature young musicians performing “Academic Festival Overture” by Brahms, “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Weber” by Hindemith, and “La Valse” by Ravel. It will also feature two Concerto Competition winners – Noa Marvit (Violin) and Ethan Chen (Clarinet) performing “Symphonie Espagnole, 1st movement” by Lalo, and “Concertino for Clarinet in E-flat” by Weber, respectively.

This year YPSO celebrates its 86th season and Maestro David Ramadanoff’s 34th season as music director/conductor. He will be conducting 101 young musicians who range in age from 11 to 21, and hail from many Bay Area cities. According to Ramadanoff, he enjoys “programming pieces which allow for each section of the orchestra to equally take a turn at being highlighted in during the performance.”

They will open with Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture” – a celebratory work, which the composer wrote in honor of the University of Breslau in Poland, where he earned an honorary doctorate.

YPSO will then feature two Concerto Competition winners starting with clarinet soloist Ethan Chen (he/him). Ethan will perform the “Concertino for Clarinet in E-flat” by Carl Maria von Weber, a 19th century German composer. In Ethan’s research on the history of this composition, he discovered that Weber was “cousin-in-law to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who, thirty years prior, wrote his Clarinet Concerto, making the early clarinet a fixture of orchestral music”.

Following up on this piece, violin soloist Noa Marvit (they/he) will perform the “First Movement of the Symphonie Espagnole” by Édouard Lalo, a French Composer in the 19th C. According to Noa, “[they have] studied French extensively and their great-grandfather was Spanish, so perhaps that is why “Symphonie Espagnole”, written by the Frenchman Édouard Lalo seems to resonate well. Or maybe it’s just that it’s a cool piece.”

The full orchestra will then rejoin and perform Hindemith’s “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Weber”. The composition is based on themes of German composer, Carl Maria von Weber, a previous generation to Hindemith. This work features a multitude of percussion instruments, which are played by the generously sized percussion section comprised of 6 students who are proud to be able to feature this aspect of the performance.

One of the percussion students, Thea Stratford (she/her), had this to say about the piece, “I think Hindemith has a really interesting percussion part that takes a lot of people making it fun because we all get to play at the same time. Close to the end of the song the percussion section branches away from the themes of the rest of the orchestra with the chimes (the instrument I play) keeping tempo for the section as maestro and the rest of the symphony are playing something completely different – creating a lot of contrast between the percussion section and the rest of the orchestra”.

The concert closes out with Ravel’s “La Valse”, which is full of “cinematic swishes and swoops”, according to Manager Nadia Liu, who attends their weekly rehearsals. “In this piece, the various sections of the orchestra take turns showcasing their strengths and individual instrumental characteristics”

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

In light of recent updates to the CA State regulations around Covid Safety, going into effect in April 2023, YPSO is making their concert policy mask-optional.

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 May 12, 2023, 6 p.m. for families with children ages 12 and under, and elementary/middle school classes accompanied by a teacher. Contact YPSO to make arrangements at openrehearsals@ypsomusic.org

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.

YPSO Spring Concert will take place at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley, on Saturday May 13, 2023 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $20 HERE

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