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The music had a youthful edge at times, and at others, it could have been anyone's community symphony orchestra. The chairs on the stage of Meymandi Concert Hall on November 23 were filled with an impressive number of young musicians of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic, which I was to hear for the first time. Award-winning youth orchestra conductor Hugh Partridge gave parents, relatives and other members of the Sunday afternoon audience a pleasant Thanksgiving week prelude event. They will always remember it, particularly for the experience of seeing and hearing their family members perform at the BTI Center in downtown Raleigh. The experience for the young musicians themselves is invaluable.
The highlights occurred during the various movements of the Symphony No. 5, in e Minor, Op. 64, by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. There wasn't a grandparent in the house who didn't recognize the Andante cantabile and sing mentally, "Will this be moon love, nothing but moon love? Will you be gone when the dawn comes stealing through?" Never mind a hollow sounding entry - when the solo horn broke in with that familiar melody, the audience was enchanted. Moving right along, another theme grew too loud but resolved itself back into "Moon Love." We could reopen the debate about whether pop songs of the 40s demeaned the classics or whether they simply made them more accessible to the general public.... Particularly enjoyable was the Valse movement, which moved at a delightful tempo. It was not easy to decide whether the underlying tympani or possibly less than perfect wind intonation muffled the second part of the final Allegro vivace, which seemed too labored for either allegro or vivace. Some rough diamonds need only a little work to bring out their value, and so it is with musicians. The next time they play the work with this or another orchestra it will be different. The important thing is that the music is now in their repertoire. All in all, it was a fine youth orchestra experience.
The program featured the world premiere of an orchestral piece called "Homage" by R. Michael Daugherty. His biography did not appear on the program but he is on the faculty of Coastal Carolina Community College and was in the audience to take a bow with the applause. This was a real essay for the orchestra and tested the imagination as to what homage might mean in a musical sense. Dusky-toned suspense, palpitating drumbeats, and an occasional crash of cymbals all together created a kind of suspense. There was a nice horn statement. The sense of striving seemed nevertheless more like an elegy to me and of course writing an elegy is a way of paying homage. The composer was successful in getting his point across, yet in the hands of this orchestra the composition could be compared to a rough diamond that has promise of being seen in a better light after more polishing. It would be interesting to hear "Homage" done by an ensemble with more secure intonation in all instrumental sections. There were appealing instrumental dialogues and at one point a theme that ascended into triumph, then resolved in subito piano , which seemed to represent peace - followed by a crash of cymbals. It was dramatic fare for any youth orchestra!
After intermission, Partridge explained that the Philharmonic Association is for the most part a volunteer effort and then awarded plaques to Christine Albro for 15 years of leadership and dedicated service and to Rick Black (10 years). Black operated a video camera during the performance. It is good to know that there are records of these activities for posterity.
The glossy printed program picturing Meymandi Concert Hall covered programs by the three Triangle youth orchestra organizations. The stapled booklet was well-filled with information about the several conductors and associate conductors. If expense had not been an issue, I presume that there might have been program notes included. Dates of composers would provide additional educational benefit for both the substantial number of orchestra members and the audience.
The TYP is one of three Triangle youth organizations coordinated by The Philharmonic Association and Hugh Partridge, its Artistic Director. Karen Patterson is Assistant to the Artistic Director. Partridge is the Conductor of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic; the Triangle Youth Orchestra is led by Andrew McAfee, conductor, and Jeremy R. Biggs, associate conductor. The Triangle Youth Symphony is led by Tony Robinson, conductor, and Marta C. Findlay-Partridge, associate conductor. The TYO and TYS perform in Meymandi on November 25; see our calendar for details.
Edited and corrected 12/8/03.