Fittingly, the past five years have seen a focus on fresh talent in the New West Symphony's first concert program of the year.
The "Discovery Artists" concert series, the 2000 edition of which unfolds this weekend, is a valuable opportunity for worthy young musicians to perform as soloists with a professional orchestra. The young musician angle of the program is furthered through performances by area jazz ensembles and the Royal High School Choir.
Among the soloists--who come from the San Fernando Valley and east Ventura County--the veteran of the bunch, at 25, is soprano Jessica Rivera, a USC graduate from Woodland Hills who began studying voice at 9. For the sake of unorthodoxy, Camarillo resident Keith Giacopuzzi, 16, will perform Vivaldi's Mandolin Concerto in C.
The other Discovery Artists are: cellists Bronwyn Banerdt, 15, and Kristopher Khang, 17, both of Woodland Hills; pianist Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, 15, of Tarzana; horn player Natalie Bonifede, of Oak Park, 13; and clarinetist Chris Stoutenborough, 15, a Thousand Oaks resident.
From the audience's standpoint, it's a valuable window on the upcoming generation of musicians who will keep classical music alive and, audiences and industry permitting, well. Invariably, these concerts bolster our confidence in the potential for music's future, at least from the perspective of the music-makers.
New West Symphony, Friday, 7:30 p.m., at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center, 800 Hobson Way; and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd. Tickets are $7-$18; 449-2787.
Music for the Cause: It's not just columnist hyperbole when we report that one of the most important musical events on the West Coast this weekend is unfolding in Santa Barbara.
The Silvestre Revueltas Music Festival, an ambitious and multifaceted series of concerts, film screenings, puppet theater and more, is the prodigious brainchild of Gisele Ben-Dor, conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony.
Born in Uruguay, Ben-Dor has a logical affinity for the music of Latin America and has become an ardent supporter of the established composers in that America--especially the underrated ones.
At the top of the heap is Silvestre Revueltas, a wonderful and quixotic Mexican composer who was born in 1899 and died an alcoholic's death in 1940.
Revueltas' music, often written for films, ballets and other artistic connections, has many layers and personalities, from spiky and ironic modernist to joyful melodic sweetness and back, sometimes within one piece. Although his work has been known and loved by aficionados, the music has just recently been gaining in circulation.
Ben-Dor is doing her part in the discovery process, having recorded a fine all-Revueltas CD for the Santa Barbara Symphony's debut recording. The next recording will be the premiere of Villa-Lobos' "Amerindia" Symphony, which will get its U.S. premiere as part of the symphony's concerts this weekend. Other composers from South America will be heard over the next three days, including Argentina's Alberto Ginastera (another Ben-Dor favorite) and the Uruguayan Oxnard resident Miguel del Aguila.
But at the heart of the festival is the work of Revueltas, a composer still deserving, and slowly getting, wider recognition.
"As far as I know," Ben-Dor says, "this the first time in the world something like this has been done, to take the composer outside of his country and show his varied facets."
As for the future of Latin American music in the face of Eurocentric biases in the classical world, Ben-Dor is an idealist taking action.
"I think the time has come," she said. "Serious music is battling its battles right now, and it's a challenge for all serious music, with the influence of popular music and the audience having to be reminded of what a treasure it is."
Not that she wants to become strictly a Latin American specialist. Ben-Dor has an ear for the big reportorial picture. "It's a big bus," she comments, "and we're all in it. Brahms is in it, too."
Silvestre Revueltas Music Festival, today through Sunday in Santa Barbara.
Friday: chamber concert, 1 p.m. at Friar's Lounge, Old Mission, 2201 Laguna St. Tickets are $10. Film, "Vamonos Con Pancho Villa," 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall, UCSB. Tickets are $6 for general admission, $5 for students.
Saturday: film, "La Noche de Los Mayos," 10 a.m. at Fiesta 5 Theatre. Tickets are $5. Luncheon and lecture, noon at Cafe Buenos Aires, 1316 State St. $20 includes lunch and lecture by professor Roberto Kolb-Neuhaus. Santa Barbara Symphony, 8 p.m. at the Arlington Theater, 1317 State St. Tickets from $19-$40; 898-9626.
Sunday: Santa Barbara Symphony family concert, 1 p.m. at Santa Barbara Junior High School Auditorium, 721 E. Cota St., free. Santa Barbara Symphony, 3 p.m. at the Arlington Theater, 1317 State St. Tickets range from $19-$40 (repeat of Saturday night's program); 898-9626. Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. at Santa Barbara Junior High School Auditorium, 721 E. Cota St., tickets are $10. Ongoing: Revueltas manuscripts, CDs, books and photographs at Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 W. Anapamu St. and the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu, free. Tickets and festival office: (805) 961-2556, www.glinka.com/revueltas or e-mail: LmossH@aol.com.
Josef Woodard, who writes about art and music, can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.