Symphony of the Future

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion played host Monday evening to the American Youth Symphony; although if you closed your eyes, you might forget that the median age of the Symphony is only twenty.  The students come from a range of schools across Southern California including the Colburn School, Crossroads, and USC.  Conducted by film music composer Alan Silvestri, the concert comprised of excerpts from eight of his film scores including Back to the Future, Beowulf, Castaway, and Forrest Gump.  Silvestri spoke a number of times to introduce himself, the musicians, and tell interesting stories about the process of composing music for film.  His words carried an obvious tone of pride for the artists on stage and their achievements as he thanked the audience members for supporting the students’ dedication and talent.

As the Symphony seamlessly shifted from classical to jazz to classical, one noticed the sense of accomplishment enjoyed on stage that you don’t find with a professional group.  That is not to say that we should scrap the Philharmonic and invite the American Youth Symphony to take its place.  Instead, I found a drive in the Symphony members to push themselves to become the Philharmonic, which is a drive inherently lost on the Philharmonic itself.  Representing the next chapter in classical music for Los Angeles, these young people undoubtedly prove that the fine arts are not lost on the “music video” generation of this city.

The violin bows that move in perfect unison, the drummers’ bodies that keep the rhythm while the drums take a rest, and the harps that shift back and forth simultaneously all display that the Symphony’s focus is on the impeccably choreographed group as a whole.  When soloists were singled out, it was done with the least possible fanfare while other musicians prepared for the next piece.  As a result, they were as beautiful to watch as they were to hear.  In fact, the only telltale sign of their age was the tendency that some members had to slouch during Silvestri’s speeches: an endearing reminder of exactly who it is playing beautiful music with such extraordinary talent.

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