A young take on old classics

Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra tackles the difficult classical pieces professional orchestras play

Members of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra are held to the same standards as adult orchestras

Members of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra are held to the same standards as adult orchestras

The region’s top young musicians will illuminate the complex but timeless scores of Bach and Beethoven this Sunday, opening the 26th season of the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra.

Considered one of the best youth orchestras in Canada, musicians as young as 11 up to those pushing their late-20s will tackle up-tempo but technically demanding pieces for their first of three concerts – Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 and Holst’s “A Somerset Rhapsody.”

“The youth orchestra is primarily a training orchestra,” said musical director Yariv Aloni. “I’ve chosen pieces that are universal for every major symphony. Playing Bach or Beethoven, the demands are the exact same as a professional orchestra.”

About half of this year’s crop of 65 budding musicians are new to the GVYO, which is typical – Aloni described the orchestra as a phoenix that rebuilds itself each season.

“Every fall there’s new people. This year half the orchestra is completely new,” said Aloni, a University of Victoria music instructor who has been with the youth orchestra since 2002.

“But I’m glad to see in 10 years the level of skill hasn’t changed. I was worried I’d have to make things easier, but that’s not the case. I can always program more complex pieces.”

Aloni usually offsets one highly technical score with a few that are slightly less difficult, but he admits the three pieces selected for Sunday’s concert would keep a professional orchestra on its toes. Not that he tells the young musicians one score is more demanding than another – “if they are told it’s hard, they think it’s hard.”

“If they believe they can play it, they will play it,” he said. “I’m always amazed at the level of skill. Usually you can’t tell it’s not a professional orchestra. Sometimes it’s not exact, but most people wouldn’t know.

“For younger musicians, (musical scores) are like seeing a movie for the first time, it’s extremely exciting. The level of energy they bring is wonderful.”

Bach and Beethoven are cornerstone pieces for any symphony orchestra, but the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in particular is dear to the heart of the GVYO – it was the first piece it played in its first season in 1986.

All the pieces are energized, a necessity for an orchestra mainly made up of high school students.

“You have to figure out music that will appeal to that age. If you pick a piece that is brooding and very slow, young people will get bored,” Aloni said. “You need something that is fast. We’ve got a good mix.”

Many of the young musicians go on to careers in music, in symphonies, as chamber musicians or instructors. Virtually all make careers in music, but when they start with the GVYO, most have little experience in large ensembles.

“The goal isn’t a factory of musicians, it’s to bring joy through making music,” Aloni said.

“It’s like a living organism where they all work together. It’s 65 people moving at the same time, moving through the notes together … it’s incredible precision. To learn it is phenomenal.”

The Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra is performing on Nov. 27, 2:30 p.m., University  of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium. See www.gvyo.org for more information.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

The District of Saanich has pinpointed funding requests to Oak Bay and Victoria to help offset the purchase price of the Kings Park greenspace and keep the property intact. (Courtesy District of Saanich)
Saanich requests funding help from neighbours to preserve Kings Road green space

District hopes Victoria and Oak Bay will join them in protecting urban green space

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stood at 6.3 per cent in May 2021, nearly unchanged from April’s rate of 6.2 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stagnates at 6.3 per cent in May

Latest figures reflect conditions before lifting of public health measures

North Saanich council Monday will consider the results of a survey conducted by the North Saanich Residents Association that finds little support for increased densification. (Black Press Media File)
Survey finds little support for increased density in North Saanich

North Saanich Residents Association conducted the online survey

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read