Music from stage and film

The Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon will take a cinematic approach to its 2010 spring concert series.

More than 150 young musicians from the Rogue Valley make up the YSSO, which comprises three ensembles — the Youth Symphony, the Youth Orchestra and the Youth Strings.

The three ensembles will present their final concert of the year this weekend, with performances set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 22, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

This particular series will focus on music arranged for the stage and for film, says Cynthia Hutton, director of both the Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra.

"This isn't really typical," she says. "We do concentrate most of the year on mainstream classical music. We want the kids to be familiar with Beethoven and Brahms. ... This term we decided to explore the lighter side of classical music."

The Youth Symphony, which features high school- to college-age youth, will begin the program with two major works for the stage — Aaron Copland's "Rodeo" and John Williams' "Overture to The Cowboys."

"Rodeo" is a ballet typical of Copland's works in the 1940s, says Hutton.

"He was passionate about creating works that depict American history," she says. "In this particular ballet, the theme is all about American life in the West."

In the first movement, "Buckaroo Holiday," Copland incorporated several cowboy folk songs, including the railroad tunes "Sis Joe" and "If He'd Be a Buckaroo by His Trade." The second movement, "Saturday Night Waltz," is a slower and more lyrical movement, followed by a third, the famous "Hoe-down," which has been popularized by television commercials.

In 1972, John Williams wrote the score for "The Cowboy," starring John Wayne. Nearly a decade later, Williams rearranged the piece into a concert overture, which the Youth Symphony will perform.

"It's rambunctious with lots of wonderful brass and fanfare, and then very beautiful lyrical melodies," Hutton says. "It sounds like it's right out of a western."

Separate from the theme of the show, the Youth Symphony will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Concerto in A Minor for Oboe and Strings." Gabe Young, 14, winner of the 2010 Concerto Competition, will perform solo oboe in two movements of the concerto.

"(The piece) really showcases both the wonderful warmth and sonority of the string orchestra as well as Gabe's virtuosic abilities on the oboe," says Hutton.

The Youth Orchestra will precede the Youth Symphony, playing an arrangement of Georges Bizet's ballet, "Carmen;" a short march-style piece by Erich Wolfgang Korngold from the 1938 film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood"; and selected arrangements of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera."

The Youth Strings, with musicians ranging in age from 5 to about 10 years old, under the direction of Associate Conductor Faina Podolnaya, will perform works by G.F. Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Maria von Weber and Judy Weigert Bossuat.

Tickets cost $10, $5 for students and are available at Paddington Station in Ashland and Larry's Music in Medford. Tickets to the Craterian performance are available by calling 541-779-3000.

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