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An altogether admirable transfer of power took place Sunday evening in Meymandi Concert Hall as David Glover led his first full concert as conductor of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic, the flagship orchestra of the Philharmonic Association, the non-profit entity that trains literally hundreds of young people in our region in ensemble skills, training that concurrently helps produce the next generation of musicians, music lovers, and patrons of musical organizations, all of whom, together, will ensure the future of the performing arts in our midst and beyond. Glover's predecessor, PA founder Hugh Partridge, was on hand to cheer him on.
The occasion was a full program of outstanding 19th and 20th century music by Prokofiev, Vaughan Williams, and Franck. The platform was packed with players – 96 names are listed in the roster, published in the PA's end-of-season program. That includes 66 string players – making those sections alone larger than many of our perfectly content, fully functioning regional orchestras hereabouts. That in turn means that when the strings of the TYP turn on the sound, one can hear it – they can more than hold their own against their colleagues in the woodwind, brass, and percussion sections. And that in turn makes for a very satisfying orchestral sound – it’s worth remembering that the difference in a band and an orchestra is strings, and it's the strings that one wants to be able to hear in an orchestra!
Before the music began, the PA did its annual thing, recognizing players with perfect attendance – 14 certificates were awarded by Glover and PA executive director Margaret Partridge (profiled at the bottom of the page provided here). That level of commitment to anything in this oft'-overwhelmingly busy age is remarkable, in and of itself; in truth, this represents not only the participants' devotion to the art of orchestral performance but also their parents', and this is clearly a parent-involved project.
In addition, the PA – Glover and Partridge – recognized the departing seniors, calling out their individual years of service and making note of where they are headed next. A gratifyingly large number of these 24 souls plan to make music an ongoing part of their lives – they really do represent the future of this art. It may be worth noting, too, that the years of service these 24 musicians have given the PA add up to a grand total of 139 – with many, many of them logging between six and nine years with this one organization, having advanced through the ranks, as it were, from beginner groups to the flagship orchestra. This is enough to bring a tear to the eye of an old curmudgeon, for sure.
And then there was the music.
Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé is a sort of Russian Kilroy, a fictional Army officer who wins promotion after promotion because the bureaucracy just can't let go of its initial mistake. There's a film version, for which the composer provided the music; it is from that score that the five-part suite heard here was drawn. Glover and the players elicited all of the fun and the biting satire, too, in their rendition.
The Oboe Concerto by Vaughan Williams, premiered in 1944, is one of the classics of its genre; that it was created during the war and yet retained its astonishing pastoral quality is quite amazing. We heard the first of three movements in a radiant performance by the TYP's principal Noa Weinreb, grandly supported by (some of) the strings of the orchestra. Let her come back to play the whole thing, and soon!
Following the intermission came a truly stirring performance of Franck's Symphony in D minor (1888-9). This thing was at one time, not too long ago, ubiquitous, and many of the great conductors and orchestras of previous generations not only played it – often – but also left recordings. Of its period and its ilk, only Chausson's Symphony in B-flat (1891) comes close as a rival. That said, it seems to be enjoying some resurgence of late – the UNC Symphony Orchestra recently ended its season with a performance of this very same work. Maybe we should have sent the guy who reviewed that to hear this. But since we didn't, I'll be so bold as to say that if you walked into any concert room, anywhere, and heard a such a rich yet finely honed reading, vibrant, full-bodied, and expertly played, you'd be totally happy and content, too – and that was certainly the case here.
That Glover fellow had 'em playing like pros.
He's off to a very good start.
These end-of-season concerts come in bunches, since so many young people are involved in these many programs. The last one is Tuesday, May 7, in the same venue, featuring the Triangle Youth Orchestra (at 7 p.m.) followed immediately by the Triangle Youth Symphony (at 8 p.m.). We've added details in the sidebar.
From the ranks of these ensembles replacements for all those TYP graduating seniors will be drawn. Come hear them. They are indeed our future.
PS The ushers policed cell-phone use vigorously, at times creating a good deal more distraction than the occasional loom of lights may have caused....