Compare the Louisiana Youth Orchestra’s Saturday concert to a youth theater company’s choosing to perform a full production over a condensed, “junior” version.
The music begins at 3 p.m. in Baton Rouge Magnet High School’s auditorium, and also will include performances by the Louisiana Junior Youth Orchestra, the Louisiana Youth Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and the Louisiana Junior String Ensemble.
“And this concert will be special for the Louisiana Junior Youth Orchestra,” says David Torns. “They’ll be playing a piece they commissioned by Christopher Lowery, a student at LSU. It’s called ‘A Cypress Prelude,’ and their performance will be a world premiere of this piece.”
Torns is director of the top group — the Louisiana Youth Orchestra — which also will be delivering a special performance on Saturday. De Falla’s music is never easy to perform, and the youth orchestra never plays simpler arrangements of any composer’s work.
“We play the original compositions,” Torns says. “These are the same compositions that the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra would play, so it’s always a challenge. But the orchestra has risen to this challenge. I chose this piece for the final concert, because the orchestra has been rehearsing and performing together all year, and they’re playing at their highest level at this time. And they’re always excited about learning something new.”
“The Final Dance” is the last movement in de Falla’s 1917 ballet suite, “The Three-Cornered Hat,” based on Pedro Antonio de Alarcón’s novel of a magistrate infatuated with a miller’s faithful wife. De Falla uses traditional Andalusian folk music throughout the ballet.
Headlining this concert will be soloist Mary Grace Ellerbee, winner of the Louisiana Music Teachers Association’s annual February piano concerto competition. The 17-year-old Zachary High School junior will be performing the third movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s 1837 “Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40.” Mendelssohn premiered this piece at the Birmingham Festival of 1837 in England.
“The competition winner traditionally plays only one movement of a concerto,” Torns says. “And we traditionally feature the winner in our final concert of the season. We’ll be accompanying her.”
After the concert, Torns will be turning his attention to orchestra auditions. Last year, auditions were conducted in spring and summer.
“I don’t know if we’ll be having spring auditions again, but we’ll definitely have them in the summer,” he says. “I wish we didn’t have to let the kids go during the summer, but they need a break.”
And they’ll return in the fall ready for new challenges.