HIGHGATE--The All Arts Council of Franklin County presents the forty-third season opener of the Vermont Youth Orchestra, on Sunday, September 11, 2005, in the MVU Theater in Highgate. Led by Music Director and Conductor Troy Peters, the VYO will present a program of Jedi Knights, Cowboys, and other Heroes.
The program has themes of courage, youthful optimism, and heroic feats. A program with energetic appeal, the concert features Rossini’s Overture to William Tell, and the Overture to Wagner’s politically-charged Rienzi as well as works by Dohnanyi, Hayes, and Jacobs. For the finale, the VYO travels musically to "a galaxy far, far away," with a medley from the popular motion picture series Star Wars by John Williams.
"Because we had the last Star Wars movie coming out," Troy Peters said, "I figured this would be a good time to bring out some Star Wars music and so we built this program of heroes just thinking of that theme and had this calendar coincidence that turns out to be perfect for the day."
"It's a bouquet of short pieces with the recurring theme of heroes," Maestro Peters said. "The program is especially fun."
The VYO has established a tradition of a family-friendly Fall concert with slightly shorter pieces and less of the larger and more serious repertoire found in the winter programs. "People who haven't heard a lot of orchestra concerts [can] get into this program," he said.
Star Wars, a movie, begat the Jedi knights.
Music has always been identified with movies and the best of movie music is not easy or simple although it is easy to listen to and brings out . It is written for the audience. Great movie music is great music, period, even if one does not consciously envision the orchestra in the pit while watching a movie. John Williams writes real symphonic music.
"Some people tend to think of the orchestra as an old fashioned thing but you can't imagine movies without that great orchestral music," Maestro Peters said. Star Wars has music familiar to many people. "It's a great example of how the orchestra is relevant and central to what goes on."
The William Tell Overture has been used in movies, radio, and television. If the blank stare is the response when you say Kemo Sabe, this concert is for you. "People of a certain age also remember the Lone Ranger as their association for the 'Overture' although I'm finding with the youth orchestra kids, a lot of them have no idea who the Lone Ranger is, but they still know the music and recognize the melodies.
"It's a piece that is full of wonderful tunes in addition to the famous Lone Ranger section, it has all kinds of other sections with great tunes in it."
The Wagner Rienzi, overture "is another fun, heroic piece" that begins the story of Cola Rienzi, a Roman Tribune and Papal Notary. The overture gives a vivid idea of the action of the opera. It has the broad and stately melody of Rienzi's prayer, tumultuous and melodramatic passages, and a lively melody repeated in the finale of the second act.
"People tend to think of these giant four-hour operas as what Wagner is all about," Maestro Peters said, "but this piece, like a lot of his music, is just fun. On the one hand he created these big, gigantic, lumbering dramas, but at the same time he filled them full of great tunes.
"This is the curtain raiser from one of his early pieces. It celebrates a hero whom very people have heard of, who was a leader in Rome near the end of the Roman Empire who sort of spoke up for the people when the government was corrupt. It's neat and rousing. He didn't end up doing very well but the music has a happy ending."
The orchestra repertoire always includes American music and the VYO will debut a new work at this concert with the introduction of Possibly, a composition by Micah Hayes, a graduate student in composition at University of Oregon.
Youth Orchestra people talk to each other, often to point out composers or soloists or conductors who offer a good fit.
Commissioning composer Micah Hayes came about when "Mark Thayer at the St Louis Symphony wanted to put together a set of youth orchestras. That way, we all spend less money than we might otherwise. It costs us each less than it would otherwise and he gets more performances.
"You then also have the composer to work with the kids and give feedback. With Micah Hayes, we've been recording rehearsals. I send him the CD and a few days late, he sends back his comments. That's really valuable. That direct connection is invaluable," Maestro Peters said. "It's a fun loud piece, probably the loudest you will hear an orchestra play. It's very rock n roll influenced so our kids are having a lot of fun being the world's biggest rock band."
Each VYO concert also shows off the individuals in the orchestra. At the end of each year all high school juniors may audition for a slot as a soloist. Usually 10-15 participate. "Based on that audition, almost like a competition we create a ranking," he said. As many students as possible get to play with the symphony or with one of the younger orchestras.
Two VYO soloists will perform in this concert. Essex Junction horn player Trevor Bergeron is featured in Gordon Jacobs’ Horn Concerto, and Charlotte cellist Daniel Hollier-Cross will play Dohnányi’s Concert Piece in D major, Op. 12.
"We have two especially strong students, a phenomenal French Horn player and a wonderful cellist," he said. "This concert has two sort of unusual concertos. They are not top-40 standards but they are pieces the kids picked out. They are both pieces I didn't know before the kids brought them to me and they're great." It has happened regularly over the years because the soloists choose the music they want to play. "The students will audition with an unusual solo piece and I get to learn all this repertoire that I wouldn't have thought of on my own."
The Vermont Youth Orchestra features outstanding musicians from all corners of Vermont. Franklin County students Shelby Colgan of Georgia, flute, Anna Houston of Enosburg, horn, Chester Peck of St. Albans, tuba, and Tyler Smith of St. Albans, oboe, have seats this season and will perform on Sunday.
The VYO has been heating up Franklin County with lively music in concerts at the MVU theater since 1998.
The MVU theater has the best acoustics of any concert hall in Vermont. It is also the friendliest because the audience is so intimately close to the stage. That connection is particularly important to the musicians. Unlike at the Flynn and other better known stages, the VYO musicians can see and hear and feel the audience at MVU.
"It's a fun room to play," Maestro Peters said.
The VYO concert at MVU will open at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2005. It is presented by the All Arts Council, sponsored by the St Albans Messenger, and hosted by the MVU Band Department. General Admission is $5 and only $2 for students and seniors. Tickets will be available at the All Arts ticket centers: Enosburg Pharmacy and Merchants Bank in Enosburg Falls, at Swanton Rexall, and at Better Planet in St. Albans. and at the door on the day of show.
This concert will be repeated Sunday, September 18, at the Flynn. Ticket prices are higher in Burlington.
VYO Ticket Information
- Season tickets are available through the VYOA office before September 9th by calling 802-655-5030.
- Single tickets to the Flynn concert go on sale to the general public on September 9th, 2005.
- Single tickets may be purchased at the Flynn Theater only, by phone at 802-86-FLYNN or online at www.flynntix.org.
- Tickets are also available for sale at the Flynn Regional Box Office on the day of show.
Dick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460