Youth symphony previews season at MY Place 

WHO: Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra


WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 p.m.


Beethoven and the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra are going to raise the roof at MY Place this weekend. One-hundred-and-fifty young musicians will be taking to the stage, offering Whistler a preview of their 2001-2002 season.

The VYSO has a 70-year history as a non-profit educational institution, dedicated to developing budding talent aged 8-21. The program offers workshops, tours and performances for children demonstrating an early passion for orchestral music.

"They don’t get very much challenging classical music in their regular classroom," explains Natalie Chapman, VYSO general manager. "There are a few that may work on a bit of classical, like a simple Mozart piece, but this is much more involved and elaborate."

Potential students are a little more advanced than the average eight year old. They must meet a certain criteria to audition, including previous enrolment in private tutoring as well as completion of various levels of the Royal Conservatory of Music, a national standardized music program.

"Students could progress along in their private instruction, but part of the reason for taking classic music lessons to begin with is to be part of ensembles where they can express themselves," adds Chapman. "Not everyone is a soloist. One in hundreds or thousands become solo artists. But a lot of these children, by the time they reach the senior levels of the VYSO, are studying music more seriously and will go on to do it professionally."

There are four levels to the VYSO: Introductory, comprised of only string instruments for beginners; the Junior String Orchestra for 10-13 year olds; Intermediate, comprising a full orchestra for junior and senior high school-aged musicians; the Senior Orchestra, comprising advanced students up to 21 years of age.

The Intermediate and Senior Orchestras will be in Whistler this weekend as part of an annual camp. Students are put through intense rehearsals according to instrumental sections, coached by professionals from Vancouver. This is a fine-tuning session to prepare the musicians for the start of their fall performance series.

While all four orchestras play frequently in the Vancouver area, recent performances by the Intermediates have included national festivals in Ottawa. The Seniors have travelled as far away as Moscow, Australia, Amsterdam and Scotland.

"All of these performances are non-competitive and strictly for show," continues Chapman. "We do hold internal competitions though, called concertos. The prize at the end of the day is money that they can apply to their tuition as well as the opportunity to play with their orchestra in a future concert as the featured artist."

Conducted by Arthur Polson, the Senior Orchestra will be performing Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherezade Opus 35 in Whistler. Polson is a renowned violin soloist, conductor and teacher. He is in his 14 th season with the VYSO and is also co-concertmaster for the Vancouver Opera Orchestra, a member of the CBC Orchestra and a founding member of the Festival Players Canada.

The Intermediate Orchestra will perform Beethoven’s Fidelio Opus 72 under the wand of Jin Zhang. Zhang has studied conducting and composition in China. Since moving to Canada in 1990 he has acquired the titles of director, conductor and co-conductor for the New Westminster Symphony Orchestra, the B.C. Chinese Music Association, The B.C. Sinfonietta and the West Coast Symphony Orchestra. His music has been heard on CBC and VTV.

The Sept. 30 Whistler concert is free. Show time is 2 p.m. at MY Place.

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