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SFS Youth Orchestra on Double Duty

October 30, 2012

YO woodwinds: flutists Apoorva Rangan and Pavitra Rengarajan; oboists Liam Boisset and Erika Johnson The day before the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra opens its 2012-2013 season on Nov. 4, the ensemble will make its debut at the fifth annual "Día de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) community concert.

The young musicians will play Copland’s El Salon México and José Pablo Moncayo’s Huapango; other performers on Saturday include the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán, guest actors and dancers, and narrator Luis Valdez.

At the Sunday concert, Donato Cabrera conducts the Copland work again, adding Sibelius' Symphony No. 1, and Mozart’s Oboe Concerto, with 2012 Concerto Competition winner Liam Boisset.

Boisset has been playing with the Youth Orchestra and participated in this year's European tour, where he had a personal experience in Mozart's hometown:

I didn't really understand Mozart's Oboe Concerto until the Youth Orchestra tour in Salzburg. Just being there and taking in the atmosphere showed me how to approach playing it. I want everyone in the YO to hook into the Salzburg spirit when we play the Concerto in Davies Hall.

The 17-year-old oboist from Pleasant Hill had prepared long and hard for the competition which he won:

In preparation for the competition, I would begin each practice session by running through the entire work with a metronome in order to maintain a constant pulse, even in passages with tempo fluctuation. Using the metronome in practice sessions made for a lovely contrast in the performance, during which I felt an overwhelming sensation of musical liberty.

After finishing the concerto, I would use the run-through as a reference for the rest of the session, going back and focusing on any spots that could have been executed smoother. When I felt that I had accomplished all I could, I would finish the same way I started, by running through the piece with a metronome, trying to apply all of the improvements I had made.

Being a soloist is a new, thrilling experience for the young orchestra musician:

I love being in front of the orchestra. It allows for a musical partnership with the conductor and the ensemble that is very different from the experience a musician has while inside the great musical cog that is the orchestra.

I feel as if I am one of the people who drive the machine, rather than one of components within.

Boisset is grateful for the Youth Orchestra experience and support:

As a member of the orchestra, I have become a much more conscious and responsive musician. Never before had I played in an ensemble that demands such acute knowledge of the inner workings of the music from every musician.

Even before I joined the SFSYO, I had always entertained the idea of pursuing a career in music, but the orchestra has helped me decide that music is the only possible thing I could spend the rest of my life studying.

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].