Without exception, the Glendale Youth Orchestra is something special. The stunningly talented youth group packed a mesmerizing classical performance with selections from Mozart and Mendelssohn, in celebration of its 20th anniversary season finale Tuesday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.
The concert, under the gifted hand of Conductor Brad Keimach, who is Juilliard trained and a protégé of Leonard Bernstein, highlighted the youth orchestra’s exceptional talent with an efficiently laid out program worthy of a Disney Hall audience.
Beginning with Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro,” arguably one of Mozart’s most famous pieces, the youth group played with tremendous enthusiasm and vigor. Performing the evening’s first solo was Ashlyn Kaneshiro, who played Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, 1st Movement.
The 14-year-old wunderkind has been studying violin under private instruction from Cesar Chicco while also attending the Bella Musica Conservatory. Her eight years of formidable education reveal ever so clear her position as a magnificent soloist.
Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, 1st Movement, also one of the most famous works of the composer, was performed by Hector Gonzalez.
His solo was an absolute testament to the 17-year-old’s amazing talent. Currently a junior at Renaissance Arts Academy, it is hard to believe Hector is self-taught. His tremendous abilities have afforded him a position with the Junior Philharmonic as violist as well as a rare opportunity for any young performer, which was to play at Shea Stadium for the New York Mets last summer.
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, 1st Movement, was performed by Aram Garibyan. Aram, also 17, began his love of the violin at age 7. A student of Vladik Seiranian since the age of 8, he enhanced his music education at Lark Music School, and has gone on, many times, to take first place in classic music competitions nationwide. While this is his first year playing with the youth orchestra, there is no denying that he is more than a perfect fit.
During the intermission a silent auction was held to benefit the scholarship program for the youth orchestra. Items on the block consisted of an array of gift baskets, wines and certificates from local retailers including Calidora Skin Clinic and Pinkberry.
The organization’s mission is that of assisting young adults in the advantages of a rich and cultural future. Glendale Youth Orchestra provides young musicians in sixth through 12th grades a unique opportunity to experience and engage in the performances of classical music.
Wrapping up the evening into an elegant package, the orchestra performed Mozart’s Symphony No. 38 (“Prague.”)
Not always an easy piece to perform, it was beautifully played with a fluidity and precision usually found in orchestras with much more seasoned artists.
It should be noted that Keimach’s tenure as the founding music director of the Westfield Symphony for 13 years more than assisted in creating an evening of dedication by the youth group that was both crisp and gorgeous. Each member of the orchestra as well as the soloists seemed to engage in a delightful dance, elevating one another’s performance in the name of true classicism, something so rarely found in such a young orchestra.
The Glendale Youth Orchestra returns next year for its 21st season.
For those of us in the audience Tuesday night, it can’t come soon enough.
MICHAEL BOLGER is a freelance arts writer, most recently working for the San Diego Community News Group covering the La Jolla Contemporary Museum of Art, La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego Music Center.