Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents Future Vibrations
The Central Oregon Youth Orchestra, Amy Goeser Kolb, founder/executive director; Julia Bastuscheck, Eddy Robinson, directors
Vancouver Pops Orchestra, Tom Kuo, director
Distinguished Concerts Singers International, Francisco Núñez, guest conductor; Jon Holden Piano
Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
June 14, 2015
On June 14, 2015 at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presented a concert called Future Vibrations, featuring two youth orchestras and a choir consisting solely of treble voices from Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. I am always very interested in hearing young people display their musical talents, so I was looking forward to this afternoon’s concert.
Opening the concert was The Central Oregon Youth Orchestra. Before mentioning anything else, I want credit the members of the orchestra wrote the program notes for the works they played. Full of youthful enthusiasm, they coupled some personal thoughts with history and background, making these notes a delight to read. Congratulations to Nathan Hughes, Reagan Lithgow, Gabrielle Sarao, Isaac Spackman, and Alyssa Clark for a job well done!
Conductor Julia Bastuscheck took the podium and led a spirited, if not altogether tight performance of An American in Paris. Maybe it was nervousness, but the intonation was at times lacking, and there was a feeling of the ensemble struggling to be in synch. After a shift of the violinists (in what was to occur after each work, seemingly to give different players the opportunity of occupying the coveted concertmaster chair) conductor Eddy Robinson took the podium for the next three works, the Bacchanale from Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson et Deliah, the New York premiere of DCINY favorite Christopher Tin’s Iza Ngomso, an orchestra-only arrangement of a movement from A Drop That Contained the Sea, and a short version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The Bacchanale was the highlight of Mr. Robinson’s work with the orchestra- it was played impressively with a well-defined sense of the nature of the piece itself. Iza Ngomso and 1812 were given solid readings.
Ms. Bastuscheck returned to conduct the last work, the Pines of the Appian Way, from Respighi’s Pines of Rome. The slow build-up was done well, with special mention going to the oboe soloist, whose playing was simply outstanding, easily up to the standard of many professional players. What would have made this good performance great would have been more vigor in the triumphant last section (I want to hear that gong loud and clear- I saw it struck, but never heard it). After the last chord, their many supporters in the audience gave them a loud standing ovation. After the intermission, a large number of the members of the orchestra were seated all around me. I witnessed countless proud parents and friends coming to hug their star with beaming smiles in congratulations. These young players were having the time of their lives, and it was touching to see all of this unfold. This is a group filled with many talented individuals, as was evidenced by the high level of playing from the soloists, but there is still room for elevating the level of the entire ensemble. More consistency in intonation, both within sections and the entire ensemble, a little more boldness from the strings, and a little less of the same from the brass will make all the difference.
After a short break, the Vancouver Pops Orchestra took the stage. Led by Tom Kuo, they offered four medleys from the hit movies My Neighbor Totoro, How to Train Your Dragon, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Aladdin. Mr. Kuo was a dynamic leader, and the orchestra responded well to his direction in four polished performances. There were fleeting issues with intonation, but these issues never became a distraction. The highlight of their selections was Star Trek, which was played enterprisingly (no pun intended…well, maybe a little pun intended!). The program notes stated the Pops was dedicating the performance to the late Leonard Nimoy, and I suspect that Mr. Spock would have found the presentation to be “most logical.” After the last notes of the delightful Aladdin, the large audience gave them a well-earned standing ovation for their outstanding playing.
After intermission, the multi-talented composer and conductor Francisco Núñez led the 119-member strong Distinguished Concerts International Singers, which consisted of only treble range voices. They offered selections from Mozart (Papageno-Papagena duet from The Magic Flute), Jim Papoulis (Sih’r Khalaq – Creative Magic), and three of Mr. Núñez’s own works, Misa Pequeña para Niños (A Children’s Mass), Pinwheels, and La Sopa de Isabel (Elizabeth’s Soup). A few folks songs were thrown in for good measure, Dobrú Noc (Good Night) and Love Lies Under the Old Oak Tree). It was unfortunate that an excellent violin soloist was uncredited, as were a cellist, percussionist, and guitarist in their appearances.
The highlights of the half were Mr. Núñez’s three works. Mr. Núñez has a definite gift for bring the very best out of his young singers. His energy radiates to the young musicians, and they radiate it right back with joy. His compositions show his expertise in writing for young voices in a way that not only lies within their developing capabilities, but also gives them a sound beyond their years. This is most apparent in his Misa Pequeña para Niños, which was performed with a surprising level of sophistication. Pinwheels was poignant both in the message and the music. La Sopa de Isabel brought the house down as the young singers spun around multiple times, while Mr. Núñez turned to the audience to get them to join in by clapping along, which of course they did with gusto! Mr. Núñez swayed back and forth with dance-like movements, and soon after, the chorus members paired up, joined hands, and began dancing with each other. The audience laughed in complete delight, and when it was all over, they leapt to their feet in a raucous standing ovation. It was a delightful end to a delightful afternoon. Congratulations to all!