The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music notebook: Are more young people playing and listening to classical music? They do in Madison and Los Angeles, thanks to WYSO and Gustavo Dudamel’s work with YOLA | May 22, 2010

By Jacob Stockinger

This has been a week of talking about classical music education, about students and recitals, so why not top it off with a similar subject.

For that reason, The Ear wants to remind you:

This Sunday, May 23, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras hold their spring concerts, also a season closer with more than 300 talented young musicians performing in Mills Hall on the UW-Madison campus, 455 North Park Street.

At 1:30 p.m., WYSO’s Harp Ensemble will start the concert, followed by string orchestra, Sinfonietta, performing popular favorites such as selections from “Les Miserables” and Scott Joplin’s “Bethena.” Concert Orchestra will also feature a program of audience favorites, including Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” Overture and Bizet’s Prelude to “Carmen.”

At 4 p.m., WYSO’s premiere performing group, Youth Orchestra, will place the spotlight on three talented young men who won the 2010 Concerto Competition. Accompanied by the Youth Orchestra, Ansel Norris, 17, will play Hummel’s Trumpet Concerto. Tony Oliva, 18, will play Saint-Saëns Violin Concerto No. 3. Greg Riss, 17, will play Keiko Abe’s Marimba Concerto “Prism Rhapsody.”

The Philharmonia Orchestra will play the final concert of the day at 7 p.m. and will also feature the talents of a Concerto Competition winner. Christopher Eom, 15, will perform the third movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G Minor, accompanied by his fellow orchestra members. Conductor Tom Buchhauser will also lead the orchestra in performances of Grainger’s “Mock Morris” and Schubert’s “Rosamunde” Overture.

WYSO concerts are generally about an hour to an hour and a half in length, providing a great orchestral concert opportunity for families.

Tickets are available at the door, $8 for adults and $5 for children under 18 years of age.

WYSO was founded in 1966 and has served nearly 5,000 young musicians from more than 100 communities in southern Wisconsin.

For more information, visit WYSO’s website:

And let’s hear some applause for the parents who support the young musicians and for the funders who sponsor young people learning classical music:

These concerts are supported by the Eugenie Mayer Bolz Family and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation and the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times. This project is also funded in part by additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the State of Wisconsin, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

And here’s something else worth noting: What is happening in southcentral Wisconsin and the greater Madison area with WYSO – and with young people’s programs, including concerts and competitions, of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Wisconsin Public Radio — is taking place elsewhere around the country.

So the future of classical music among young people is, to me  least, looking a lot rosier, despite what a lot of doomsayers predict.

Want proof? In case you missed it, here is a link to the segment on last week’s “60 Minutes” where Gustavo Dudamel — the charismatic young Venezuela-born new maestro of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is now on tour in the US — talks about his work with YOLA, the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (see both, in the photo below).

He talks about classical music’s ability to literally change lives — including his own — and he sounds thoroughly convincing. He also puts what he says into action.

Take a look  at the videos (you’ll find a lot of other videos of rehearsals and conversation) and listen to Gustavo Dudamel and tell me what you think:

And let us know what programs for teaching classical music to young people are happening in your area?

The Ear wants to hear — and hopes the news is good.


Posted in Classical music

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