This year YPSO celebrates its 87th season and Maestro David Ramadanoff’s 35th season as Music Director/Conductor. He will be conducting 99 young musicians who range in age from 11 to 21, and hail from Bay Area cities as far north as Napa and as far south as Pleasanton. YPSO has a very full-activity calendar this season – they are performing four concerts, participating in the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music, playing at the Bay Area Youth Orchestra Festival at Davies Symphony Hall, and embarking on a nine-day, three-concert summer tour to Japan in June 2024.
To kick it off, YPSO’s Fall Concert on Nov. 4 will feature young musicians performing Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, Cavaterra’s Rhapsody On A Windy Night, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor Op. 36.
The program opens with the Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture – a “brilliant overture”, in the composer’s own words, to his opera Benvenuto Cellini. The piece is often described as “dashing”, “brilliant”, and “vibrant”, and features an English Horn solo.
The program will close with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, an orchestral work which highlights horn and various woodwind instruments, including a notable oboe solo. According to Nadia Liu, YPSO’s Executive Director, “So many students came up to me at the start of the year, and told me they were thrilled to learn the Tchaikovsky! And that energy is going to flow right from the students into the ears of all our audience members come November!”
During this concert, YPSO students will be performing a recent work by California composer Jeremy Cavaterra called Rhapsody On A Windy Night. Cavaterra is YPSO’s composer-in-residence. He has also collaborated with YPSO in recent years, holding a composition workshop with them, and allowing students to follow alongside the process of composing – from pen to performance.
YPSO is one of 95 organizations participating in the California Festival: A Celebration of New Music, (cafestival.org) presenting some of the most innovative and compelling music from around the world for two weeks, Nov. 3-19, 2023, in venues throughout the state. Announced in January 2023 and conceived by LA Phil Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, the California Festival highlights the collaborative and innovative spirit that thrives in California by inviting musical organizations of all kinds to incorporate works written within the past five years into their broader season programs.
In a joint statement, Music Directors Gustavo Dudamel, Rafael Payare and Esa-Pekka Salonen said:
“California is an inexhaustible wellspring of creativity, openness and collaboration. We are so proud to be joined by more than 90 partner organizations located in every region of the state for the inaugural California Festival; their participation turns our celebration into a true statewide effort that reflects the full spectrum of ideas, voices and cultures that call California their home. Every one of these institutions will be presenting music that they believe in, representing their unique communities with total artistic freedom. We could not be more excited to join our friends in showcasing the ideas and talent that this extraordinary state has to offer.”
The California Festival is supported by the Association of California Symphony Orchestras, providing outreach to arts organizations in its network, informing them about the Festival and encouraging them to participate.
YPSO’s Music Director, David Ramadanoff, has always been thoughtful about selecting music programs that are able to showcase the diversity of talent in the entire orchestra, and he continues this tradition here. YPSO students engage in a wide range of orchestral music works spanning multiple musical eras and with composers from various backgrounds.
Starting this season, YPSO will offer free admission to:
- youth 13 and under accompanied by an adult
- high school and college students with valid ID
YPSO asks that all concert-goers, including students, please register on their ticket site, even if the tickets are free, in order to maintain appropriate seating capacity counts.
Founded in Berkeley in 1936, YPSO is the oldest youth orchestra in California and the first independent youth orchestra in the nation. The 2023-24 season is the 87th since violinist and conductor Jessica Marcelli founded YPSO 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, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. for families with young children, elementary/middle school classes accompanied by a teacher, and senior citizens.
Contact YPSO to make arrangements at email@example.com.
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.
Limited auditions available
In addition to the concert, YPSO is still auditioning for limited sections, including trumpet, tuba, French horn, bassoon, and oboe. Piedmont students currently in concert band are encouraged to audition now to join the YPSO for the second half of the season.