Handling top composers with greatest of ease

Glendale's community arts were elevated on the ladder of excellence when theGlendale Youth Orchestra opened its 22nd season Sunday night at the Alex Theatre. Directed by Brad Keimach, the youngsters, ages 11 through 17, played music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven with unerring ease and gave strong support to 14-year-old Hillary Lin Santoso's piano solo of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D-minor.

"Thanks for coming to hear my kids," Keimach declared in opening remarks before beginning the new season, his 10th, with a program that proved to be sturdy containing three well-known concert pieces.

Keimach began with Mozart's Symphony No. 31 in D in a fast-paced tempo, a beat that he sustained throughout all three movements. Marking a bit of contemporary zeal, Keimach introduced the latest trend in smaller ensembles and chamber groups — that is, to stand while performing. The orchestra rose to perform the Mozart piece and also for Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C-major that concluded the program.

Pianist Santoso performed only the second and third movements of the Mozart Piano Concerto since, as Keimach noted for the audience, she had performed the first movement with the orchestra in May. Santoso's piano technique is advanced, and she plays with assurance that will serve her well as she matures her interpretive ideas.

The young lady, already winner of 17 competitions and festivals is bound to be heard from in the future. She studies piano under her mother, Michelle Jo Santoso, but studies the violin a well. She moved from her seat in the violin section to take the guest spotlight at the piano, returning to her place in the orchestra for the balance of the concert. She is nearly as accomplished in her violin playing as she is at the piano.

The final work on the program, Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, was given a distinctively modern interpretation that was upbeat and accented. The work was given a reading that Keimach noted as "urgent" in remarks before the performance of the piece. Keimach, with his athletic conducting style, kept his musicians tightly focused. The strings remained coordinated in its ensemble playing, and the winds and brass were energized throughout the four-movement work.

The Glendale Youth Orchestra is a nonprofit organization in Glendale. The orchestra is composed of students ranging from grade six through the first two years of college who have studied their instrument for a minimum of two years.

Requirements for member musicians include participation in a school music program and weekly private music instruction. There is an audition fee and a membership fee, but scholarships are available on a need or merit basis.

BILL PETERS has reviewed the classical music scene in Southern California since 1998.



What: Glendale Youth Orchestra

When and Where: March 13 and May 22 at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale; and free concert on April 16 at the First Congregational Church, 2001 Cañada Blvd., Glendale

Tickets: Adults $10; students, children, seniors, $8.50; First Congregational concert is free.

Contact: (818) 243-2539 for concerts; http://www.glendaleyouthorchestra.com for audition information

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