Youth Symphony, chorus to play fall concert

What’s one of the best Monday cures following the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend? How about live music.

The Springfield Symphony Orchestra will present the Springfield Youth Orchestras and Children’s Chorus in their annual fall concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2, at Southgate Baptist Church in Springfield.

The concert is free of charge and open to the public.

The concert will also feature the Springfield Youth Chamber Orchestra and Springfield Youth String Ensemble and the Live Wire chamber ensemble. The evening’s selections will include works from master composers.

Ed Zunic, now in his second year as Youth Symphony conductor, said the 50-60 musicians from a number of area schools are eager for a bigger stage.

“Our group is prepared to move beyond its weekly rehearsals since September in the Turner Studio and in front of a live audience,” he said. “We looked at six or seven pieces and have narrowed it down to three.”

Works will include a dance piece from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” a Mozart symphony and a Bach dance piece. Although the “Nutcracker” is associated with the season, this isn’t a concert of holiday music.

The Children’s Chorus, now in its second season, is beginning to hit its stride, according to conductor Jennifer Wightman.

This season she incorporated a musicianship class to teach how to interpret a score, which has made it much easier to teach.

“They’ve taken more ownership,” said Wightman. “Before they had to rely on me and now they are going on their own, practicing at home and are able to do much more complicated pieces.”

A positive out of that is the group can now perform in three-part harmony where last year they were in two-part harmony.

To show its new range, the chorus will perform three multi-cultural songs including “Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser! “ in French Canadian; ”Red Dragonflies” in Japanese; and “Kingston Market,” a Caribbean folk song, which will be backed with music from the orchestra.

And as another new tradition, the group will open the show with an acapella version of The Star Spangled Banner.

The Springfield Youth Symphony has been around since the late 1950s, providing an outlet for area students to perform advanced orchestral music in a full orchestra setting. Some are from home school programs and wouldn’t otherwise be able to find a musical outlet.

It’s a chance to see talented young musicians from grades 2-12.

Zunic said the fall concert is comparable to a midterm exam and the final comes during the spring concert in March. He and the other conductors get the satisfaction of seeing and hearing the progress.

“These programs are hidden gems,” said Zunic. “There’s quality work being done from kids of all skill levels waiting to be discovered.”

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