YOUNGSTOWN SYMPHONY Who's playing in 2005-'06? Winners
Some well-established performers and favorites will be back next season.
By L. CROW
The 2005-2006 Youngstown Symphony season is all about winning.
Working on the theme of "The Winner's Circle," the symphony wants to present winning music by winning soloists, to win over the ticket-buying public.
In its 80th year, the symphony also celebrates the 10th and final year with Isaiah Jackson as its musical director.
Jackson emphasizes that he and the orchestra are happy to play what the Youngstown community enjoys.
"The 19th century standard repertoire appeals to many people," he says. "The orchestra is very versatile, and can oblige. We like to play what people like."
Patricia Syak, executive director of the symphony, agrees. "We cherish the diversity of the community and plan our programs around what we think the community will enjoy," she says. "We want to bring the joy of music to as many as possible. We are mindful of people's idea of music and how it affects their lives."
The Masterworks Series, the classical segment of the season, will bring competition winners to Youngstown. Many are making their debut with the symphony, and represent young and emerging talent. The symphony season starts in October with pianist Olga Kern performing the Rachmaninoff "Piano Concerto No. 3." In 2001, Kern was the first woman in 30 years to win the Van Cliburn Piano Competition.
The Claremont Trio will perform the "Triple Concerto" in an all-Beethoven concert in February. Twin sisters Emily and Julie Bruskin and Donna Kwong make up this group, which won the first Kalichstin-Laredo-Robinson International Trio Award in 2004.
Music for youngsters
But a couple of soloists are already audience favorites. George Vosburgh, soloist, lecturer, and principal trumpeter of The Pittsburgh Symphony, will return in November to perform the Hummel "Trumpet Concerto" and to lead the brigade in Haydn's "Toy Symphony."
"Haydn wrote this as an entertainment piece for children," says Jackson. "We hope to have children playing the 'toy' instruments, such as the whistle [nightingale], cuckoo, and ratchet."
Another returning soloist is Fabio Bidini, pianist, who will be performing both the "Warsaw Concerto" by Adinsell, and Liszt's "Piano Concerto No. 1," in April. This last performance of the Masterworks Series is a collection of Jackson's personal favorites, which includes Debussy's "Prelude to 'The Afternoon of a Faun.'"
"I have a powerful affinity to French Impressionism," Jackson says. During the season, Debussy's "Nocturnes: Nuages, Fetes" and Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" will also be performed.
Jackson said he and Syak "work together in the planning of the programs before it goes before the board. She has enormous input. We first start with concertos and get a good selection of instruments: piano, violins, ensembles. We like to touch the core repertoire: Brahms, Beethoven Mozart, which is like tonic for the orchestra, what they play best. We look at 'hot spots': a good opening concert, an exciting closing, then look to create balance."
And doing standard composers doesn't have to mean the same old stuff. This season's celebration of Mozart's 250th will be a performance of his lesser-known works.
Jackson is equally enthusiastic about the pops series, which this year is a salute to musical theater and includes stars from opera to Broadway. This series opens in November with selections from Puccini's "Tosca" and Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Starlight Express."
In December, the "Bravo Holidays" concert brings together three Broadway performers, Doug LaBrecque, Jan Horvath, and Michael McGuire, as they sing songs of the season.
You've heard of "The Three Tenors," right? The February concert is "The Three Phantoms," Kevin Gray, Cris Groendaal, and Craig Schulman, who have all been "Phantoms of the Opera" on Broadway. They will perform an evening of Broadway classics.
"Craig Schulman has performed with us before and is a favorite with the community," says Syak. "He calls Youngstown his 'home away from home.'"
The last concert of the pops season will be in May and will feature Lynn Roberts and Michael McGuire singing big band favorites, such as "In the Mood" and "Stardust."
"These are spectacular arrangements by Bill Holcolm," says Jackson. "We did some big band arrangements of his 3-4 years ago. He does a superb job."
Jackson wants to leave the symphony on the right note.
"As music director, one is steward to a vital community resource," he says. "I hope this will be seen as a golden age of the Youngstown Symphony. I hope the public will judge that the orchestra is in better shape than before. I would also hope to be remembered for broadening its appeal. Our pops orchestra has been very successful, and so have the children's concerts."
When asked about his personal goals, he quoted Robert Browning: "The best is yet to be."
XFor more information, call the box office at (330) 744-0264, 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. Brochures for the coming season may be obtained from the Symphony Center at 260 Federal Plaza West.