Ladies and gentlemen, the Phantom is in the building, and the Louisiana Youth Orchestra is ready to play his music of the night.
“The kids were so excited when they found out we’d be playing this music,” David Torns says. “They know the songs, and it’s a lot of fun for them.”
Torns has been the youth orchestra’s music director and conductor for 12 years, and the group’s concert on Sunday will mark the second time “Selections from Phantom of the Opera” has been part of its repertoire. The program begins at 5 p.m. in St. Joseph Cathedral.
“I’ve put this piece on the program once, but not in the last four years,” Torns says. “I don’t want to repeat music that we’ve already done. I like to give the kids an opportunity to play different things.”
But the orchestra’s membership generally shifts every four years as seniors who started out as freshmen in the orchestra graduate, ushering in a new class of orchestra members who will be playing the Phantom’s music for the first time.
The selections from the “Phantom” medley are taken from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical based on Gaston Leroux’s 1909 novel about a disfigured musical genius who becomes obsessed with a beautiful young soprano. The show is Broadway’s longest-running musical, its story both romantic and tragic.
With the concert so close to Valentine’s Day, the orchestra’s performance of “The Phantom of the Opera’s” showstopper, “The Music of the Night,” surely will generate some swoons.
“I didn’t think about it when I was planning this concert, but you can work Valentine’s Day into it,” Torns says, laughing. “‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is a romantic story. It could work.”
Meanwhile, the orchestra will kick off its performance with Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture.”
“We’ve never performed this piece,” Torns says. “It’s been difficult for the orchestra, but they’ve risen to the challenge. It’s an exciting, festive piece.”
This is unusual for Shostakovich, whose music often took on a serious tone.
“He wrote this for a festive occasion,” Torns continues.
Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture in A major, Op. 96” premiered in 1954 in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre in celebration of the 37th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The composer wrote the piece in three days, setting its melody to a lively tempo.
The work has become a standard orchestral piece and was featured at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, as well as a concert for the 2009 Nobel Prize presentations.
“We don’t have any soloists on this program,” Torns says. “We’ll be having our annual concerto competition the day following the concert, on Feb. 9. The winner of that competition will be soloing in our final concert of the season.”
Preceding the orchestra in the program lineup will be the Louisiana Junior Youth Orchestra, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and the Louisiana Junior String Ensemble.
Then the Louisiana Youth Orchestra will usher in Valentine’s Day with the Phantom.