The pandemic has hampered myriad best-laid plans this year, especially in the music world. But that hasn’t stopped a crush of young classical musicians in the Capital Region from making their instruments heard, far and wide. Hundreds of Empire State Youth Orchestra (ESYO) musicians of all skill levels are set to perform in the virtual Tutti! Festival, which begins this evening at 7pm and runs through this weekend, as well as next (Dec 3-6 and Dec 10-13, for those who still have paper calendars).
The festival will feature 12 ensembles in eight live-recorded concerts, with each concert being live-streamed through ESYO’s brand new Virtual Concert Hall. This evening’s fare will feature the ESYO’s Symphony Classical Orchestra performing Beethoven’s First Symphony, in celebration of the German composer’s birthday. (A number of other local arts organizations, including the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, have already gone virtual with their Beethoven birthday celebrations.) Members of the youth orchestra will also perform masterworks by Mozart, including the overtures to the Marriage of Figaro and opera, The Magic Flute. Other works throughout the series will include Dance in the Old Style by Hollywood composer Erich Korngold, The Serenade for Strings by Irish-American composer Victor Herbert, and Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’ homage to Mozart Sinfonietta No. 1. On Saturday, December 12, members of the ESYO Jazz Orchestra will perform “Milestones” by jazz legend Miles Davis and a jazzy take on holiday standard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
“The pandemic forced us to use many tools that we didn’t realize we had and forced us to think out of the box in the way we design our programs, orchestras, rehearsals and concerts,” says Carlos Ágreda, ESYO’s music director. “For example, the chance to break up our big orchestra into chamber orchestras allows for a lot of repertoire opportunities that we would not have before. The fact that we are challenged by the schedule having to rehearse half of the orchestra in one room and the other half in another room forced us to engage with assistant conductors and instrument coaches that tremendously increased the personalized educational attention that our musicians would not receive otherwise.”
Have an up-and-coming classical musician in your midst? There are still openings for new musicians, who play specific instruments, for ESYO’s next concert cycle, which begins in January 2021. Set up an audition with ESYO here.
Below, find the full schedule of virtual performances this and next week. Purchase tickets, which range in suggested price from $1-$30, for the virtual festival series here.
December 3 at 7:00pm: Symphony Classical
December 4 at 7:00pm: Repertory Romantic and String Orchestra
December 5 at 7:00pm: Repertory Strings and Youth Percussion
December 6 at 3:00pm: ESYO Wind Orchestra & Concertino Strings
December 10 at 7:00pm: ESYO Repertory Classical and String Orchestra
December 11 at 7:00pm: Symphony Strings
December 12 at 7:00pm: ESYO Youth Jazz
December 13 at 3:00pm: Symphony Romantic