in: Reviews

July 29, 2009

Young Artists Orchestra Shines at Tanglewood

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The Boston University Tanglewood Institute’s Young Artists Orchestra, Federico Cortese, conductor, gave its second concert of the season at Seiji Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood, on Saturday, July 25th, at 2:30 pm.

The  Young Artists Orchestra is a group of talented high-school age players drawn from all over the United States who come to Tanglewood each summer for intensive coaching in orchestral and chamber music. The program got off to a rousing, crowd-pleasing start with the Cuban Overture, George Gershwin’s 1932 tribute to Cuban dance and street music that combines novel percussion instruments with densely scored string writing. Another mood entirely was set with Beethoven’s heroic Egmont Overture. Here the strings came to the fore, showing how much they have improved—particularly the violins—since the orchestra’s first program of the season.

Nearly 65 years after its premiere with the BSO under Koussevitzky, Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra has not lost its persuasiveness. A brilliant vehicle for solo and sectional display by strings, brass, winds, and percussion in five movements of contrasting tempo and mood, this was an excellent program choice that showed off the skills  of the young players in a spirited and stylish rendering.

The enthusiastic applause was a tribute both to the orchestra’s performance and to their conductor’s dedication and skill in teaching and inspiring each and every participant. Federico Cortese is Music Director and Conductor of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and the New England String Ensemble, and will take over this fall as conductor of the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra from retiring Jameson Marvin.

Virginia Newes lives in Cambridge. She was Associate Professor of Music History and Musicology at the Eastman School of Music.

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