Mothers Day brought the Triangle Youth Philharmonic to Meymandi Concert Hall for its spring concert, this time featuring challenging music by Wagner, Barber, and Holst. Founding conductor Hugh Partridge was on the podium for the matinee performance, which began with the Overture to Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. With around 100 players crowded onto the stage – some of these artists are still comparatively small! – the sound was rich and full and for the most part exceptionally well managed. It’s a great, great piece, and chances are good that all the players will remember this performance for years to come.
Violinist Katherine Gilger captured top honors in this year’s concerto audition and thus earned the right to play with the orchestra at this season-ending concert. She chose the opening movement of one of the most wonderful and heart-warming American concerti, Barber’s Violin Concerto, Op. 14, and she played it wonderfully, with technical skills to burn and with just the right approach to the music, from an expressive standpoint. The TYP was with her at every step, and Partridge made sure that the orchestra never overwhelmed the soloist’s admirable sound.
The relatively short program ended with a suite of four numbers drawn from Holst’s The Planets. These were done so well that it was really a shame not to have heard the whole thing. Yes, we know it’s a matter of time, more than anything else, but honestly, these young artists do project the image of an orchestra that can do anything!
The numbers were “Mars, the Bringer of War,” “Venus, the Bringer of Peace,” “Neptune, the Mystic,” and “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity.” In complete versions of The Planets, “Neptune” is given last and “Jupiter” comes in the middle of the seven movements, Holst having omitted the Earth and Pluto not yet having been discovered (and then subsequently bumped from the list). “Jupiter” packs an even greater wallop nowadays than it did at the outset (the work was premiered in 1918) because the central section of this movement took on new life as the hymn “I vow to thee, my country,” widely believed to have been the late Princess Diana’s favorite.
On this lovely afternoon, some 40 singers from the Capital City Girls’ Choir were stationed in the top balcony to sing the serene finale (sometimes omitted in professional orchestral performances unless some other choral work is paired with The Planets because the finale is so short). The singers, directed by Fran Page (of Meredith College), did a fine job and added immeasurably to the overall effect of this beautiful music.
There was a big uproar at the end as the audience, which filled up the ground floor quite nicely despite heavy competition elsewhere in the building (for Riverdance and for the Carolina Ballet) and of course for parking….
Prior to the concert, the Philharmonic Association and its Music Director recognized the 26 seniors who were to play their last concert with the TYP. This is roughly a quarter of the orchestra, but there are lots of talented young musicians in the pipeline, and it’s precisely this kind of challenge that seems to inspire the management and staff the most.
Prior to the second half there was another bit of recognition as the Danchi family, whose daughter Andrea is aging out this year, mustered on the stage for a salute from Partridge. She and three of her siblings had managed 16 concurrent years in the PA for a total of 27 years of service. That means a whole lot of hauling and encouraging from mom and dad, too, so recognizing matriarch Dianne and her husband and family was just the right thing to do on Mothers Day.
Note: The other orchestras that are part of the PA family – the Triangle Youth Symphony and the Triangle Youth Orchestra – will play their spring programs in the same venue on Tuesday, May11, starting at 7:00 p.m. Readers who have not heard these ensembles owe it to themselves to check them out!