Taking her bows

An outstanding performance by 17-year-old violin soloist Ani Bukujian was the highlight of the Glendale Youth Orchestra’s concert on March 13 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Fronting an orchestra of 31 musicians ranging from 11 to 18 years of age, Ani played the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D,” Opus 35, which is a challenging selection for violin and orchestra.

Orchestra conductor Brad Keimach began his welcome with the remark, “Thanks for coming to hear my kids.” He then explained that this concerto created all the drama and theatrics associated with such familiar Tchaikovsky works as “Swan Lake” and the opera “Eugene Onegin.” Taking the podium, he led Ani and “his kids” into a professional performance on a par with recognized seasoned orchestras.

The concerto featured a dramatic solo opening, flowing into a sonorous, haunting melody that was familiarly laced throughout Ani’s performance. She demonstrated showcase artistry in glissandos, trills, vibratos, pizzicatos and masterful bowing. The orchestra phased in and out with varying melodies and accents. Horns and strings blended beautifully, with a kettledrum uniting solo and orchestra in dramatic crescendos.

Taking her bow at the end of the movement, Ani found herself facing a long standing ovation that egged her into playing Eugene Ysaye’s “Sonata Ballada No. 3,” a very modern composition, as an unaccompanied encore.

Ani began violin lessons with her father at age 3, which continued to age 15. She is now a senior at Glendale High School and has been performing since age 7.

During intermission, these concerts feature fund-raising silent auctions and raffles that offer interesting bargains. When intermission was over, Keimach led the orchestra, with Ani in the concertmaster’s position, with Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony,” or “Symphony No. 6.”

This is a composition of five movements that conjured visions of a merry gathering of country folk, children frolicking, sheep in the fields, a babbling brook, sails in the sunset and an elegant minuet dance—all sweetness and gaiety. Then came the thundering booms of a kettledrum as the horns and strings switch to minor keys, evoking the big storm. A flow into a major key reveals the storm’s end and a return to the outdoor bucolic life. It was in that 5th movement that the cellos seemed to momentarily lag.

Overall, this performance was outstanding. The orchestra, in its 21st year, has excelled under the 12-year direction of Keimach, a graduate of Juilliard School and a diverse conductor of symphonies, operas, ballets and musicals who also teaches conducting. The mission of the orchestra is to provide young musicians with a quality environment to perform and to enhance their appreciation and participation in music.

Marlene Schmidt is a freelance writer and has studied voice, piano and violin and sang locally in churches and with opera groups.



What: Glendale Youth Orchestra

When: 7 p.m. May 22

Where: Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

Admission: $10, $8.50 seniors/students

Contact: gyo@earthlink.net or visit www.glendaleyouthorchestra.com

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