Composers to be celebrated at concert
TROY, N.Y. » The Empire State Youth Orchestra will pay tribute to two American composers, Samuel Adler and Leonard Bernstein, as Adler’s 90th year of birth and Bernstein’s 100th are celebrated.
The concert, sponsored by Albany Medical Center, will take place at 3 p.m. April 29 at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.
Bernstein’s centennial year is being observed musically all over the world. The Youth Orchestra will perform his “Three Dance Variations” from “Fancy Free,” which is a ballet.
However, Empire State Youth Orchestra Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo felt strongly about honoring Adler this year for all he has done for ESYO and the music community around the world.
“Samuel Adler is my mentor from the Eastman School of Music where he was a professor of composition for many decades,” Cha-Pyo said in a news release. “I learned so much from him in and out of the classroom and I consider him one of the most important mentors who shaped my mission as a musician.”
Two of Adler’s pieces will be performed at the concert, “A Bridge to Understanding” and “Concertino for Strings” that will feature ESYO CHIME.
“A Bridge to Understanding” is a piece that was commissioned by ESYO 10 years ago and performed at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall for the New Music for a New Generation Festival. It was later presented for European premieres during ESYO’s 2008 tour in Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic.
“When Helen Cha-Pyo asked me to write a work for ESYO and their scheduled trip to Europe, I thought I would include a movement based on a Bohemian folk song and one on an American folk song to show a ‘ bridge’ between our two countries,” Adler said. “We played the piece in Prague where the people recognized their folk song and commented enthusiastically about its use. I have always enjoyed working with young musicians and have written at least five works commissioned by youth orchestras and some others for youth choirs.”
Adler began composing during his teenage years and still loves what he does these many years later. His father was a composer and he looked up to him. However, his father would not look at any of his work until he studied harmony, counterpoint and analysis. He wrote a lot of music in high school and their orchestra performed all his pieces. To date he has written more than 400 published compositions for many combinations of instruments and voices. He recently finished a “Tuba Concerto” to be premiered in October and a large choral work to be premiered in Dresden, Germany.
To celebrate Adler’s 90th birthday, Cha-Pyo asked a professor of composition at the College of St Rose if he would write a piece with a happy birthday theme. Bruce Roter based it on the famous tune, “Happy Birthday to You.”
In addition to being at the concert, Adler will speak at the College of St. Rose and be a special guest in a composition class. He is also scheduled to speak with the community from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall prior to the concert dress rehearsal on April 28.
The April concert also features the winner of ESYO’s Annual Lois Lyman Concerto Competition. Each year the organization holds an audition where members of ESYO Youth Orchestra can perform a concerto, from memory, for a panel of judges. They choose both a winner and a runner-up. Named after a music teacher and one of ESYO’s founding members, the Lois Lyman Concerto Competition has showcased some of the area’s finest musicians since 1985.
Gabrielle Kim, who is a senior at Shaker High School, was selected as the 2018 winner. Kim will perform Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto in Aminor, Op. 16. She was completely taken aback when she found out the results of her audition.
“When I found out that I won the competition, I couldn’t believe it at first. I thought I was dreaming. And then, when it really set in, I started crying. Right there, at the dinner table, I was just crying my eyes out in happiness. I was so excited to be able to perform with my friends in ESYO,” Kim said.
Samuel Adler and Helen Cha Pyo are shown during the 2008ESYO European Tour.