Youth Orchestra of Lewiston-Auburn

4 p.m. Sunday, May 6

Pathway Vineyard Auditorium, 7 Foss Rd, Lewiston

Free to public

Spring is a time of romance, dance, and life bursting forth. The classical composers of Europe frequently integrated these themes with the folk music that abounded across the continent.

Emerging as a group of dedicated young musicians, the Youth Orchestra of Lewiston-Auburn, known as YOLA, will perform some of the best-known pieces in classical repertoire for its spring concert this Sunday.

Whether inspired by music appreciation or curiosity, the public is encouraged to attend. The free concert will begin at 4 p.m. at the Pathway Vineyard Auditorium in Lewiston and will last about an hour.

“When selecting music for this concert, I had a better idea of the players I was working,” said YOLA conductor Linda Vaillancourt of Lewiston. “The group was starting to come together as a cohesive unit. I wanted to have them play some of the well-known music written for orchestra – music that they recognize has having heard before, and music that audiences might also recognize.”

Vaillancourt, who also teaches orchestra at Lewiston High School and North Yarmouth Academy as well as playing viola in various orchestras and symphonies throughout the state, has guided YOLA through its first year as a budding ensemble.

This school year, YOLA launched its mission to create an opportunity for local string music students to combine their talents and desires into an organized outlet for music learning and performing. YOLA made its public debut in its first concert this past fall with a tribute to American music and composers.

For this spring concert, YOLA offers music from abroad. The program includes music from Czech, Italian, French, and Russian composers.

One of the most recognized bodies of work is French composer Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen.” While the opera’s dramatic story of passion has been made into film, the opera’s music is often heard as film and advertisement soundtracks. Even those who claim unfamiliarity with classical music will know Bizet’s invigorating “Les Toreadors” from watching Walter Matthau lead the Bad News Bears off the field.

Besides the opera’s overture and song about unresistable bullfighters, YOLA will play “Habenera,” the gypsy Carmen’s taunting song about the untamable nature of love.

Less familiar in title, but still easily recognizable and accessible to the casual classical listener, YOLA will perform “Danza,” a dance piece by prolific Czech composer Vaclav Nelhybel, who later immigrated to the America and became a citizen.

The “Intermezzo” from Italian composer Pietro Mascagni’s one-act opera “Cavalleria Rusticana” became one of the most popularly played music in the early 20th century. Between the time Mascagni won a contest with the opera in 1890 and his death in 1945, his opera was performed more than 14,000 times in Italy alone. The “Intermezzo,” won audiences over for its beauty and frequently became a stand-alone piece, and was requested for this concert by one of YOLA’s violinists.

Vaillancourt discovered a string orchestra arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espagnol,” usually played by a full symphony orchestra with percussion. The Russian composer originally intended the work to be played by solo violinist. YOLA will play four of the five movements based on Spanish dance themes.

“This piece has worked well as it is fun to play,” said Vaillancourt. “It also has some virtuosic passages for the violins, which gives them a great challenge.”

And to round off the program is Vittorio Monti’s violin showcase piece “Czardas,” based on Hungarian folk dance. The piece is full of movement from a luxurious opening to a lively mid section and back to a languishing close.

“I am very excited about our first year, and I think it has been a success,” said Vaillancourt. “The students have worked hard at developing a unified sound, and they have really come together as a team.”

YOLA has met for an hour and half every Monday through the school year for rigorous rehearsals. Vaillancourt’s goal for YOLA next year will be to add a second orchestra geared to the much younger and beginning strings students. YOLA also welcomes adult musicians to share their expertise and talents with student players.

“My hope is that by adding an orchestra emphasizing more basic ensemble playing schools we can attract some of the elementary and middle school students looking to play in a formal group,” said Vaillancourt. “We definitely plan on growing. We’d like to invite everyone to come and hear what we’re all about.”

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