Youth Philharmonic features WL students
When the Portland Youth Philharmonic orchestra closes out its 94th season Sunday, May 6, with a production of Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, it will be a bittersweet moment for West Linn High School seniors Theresa Li, Miki Nakai and Joaquin Socolofsky.
While they're excited about the show, which will honor PYP Musical Director David Hattner's 10th anniversary in that role while also featuring former Musical Director Huw Edwards as guest conductor, there's also a sense of reflection as the students prepare to graduate and move on to the next chapter of their lives.
"In PYP I've done a lot of personal growing," said Li, who plays cello. "It helped me with working with a team I really like and personally value. I've made some great friends — lifelong friends. "And there's something really incredible about everyone working together on the same thing."
"Pictures at an Exhibition" is the featured piece at the concert, but the orchestra will also play two other compositions by George Butterworth and Gerald Finzi.
"I've played ("Pictures at an Exhibition") once in school orchestra, so I'm excited to play it again," said Nakai, who also plays cello. "Especially in the last movement, it's a lot of notes so it sounds overwhelming."
"It's a collection of pieces Mussorgsky wrote in honor of his recently passed away friend and artist," Li added.
The Butterworth piece is called "A Shropshire Lad" and was written by the British musician in 1912. Edwards will conduct what PYP calls a "lush piece."
"It's very sweet; it has quiet dynamics," Nakai said.
And to close things out, Edwards will also conduct Finzi's "Clarinet Concerto," a clarinet solo accompanied by the orchestra. The solo will be performed by Hattner as part of his anniversary celebration.
"I'd never played a concerto with a wind instrument (before now)," Li said. "I like that there's a part for the orchestra to play ... it fits really well with the solo."
"It's different from the pieces I've played before — it's very soothing in a way," Nakai said.
Nakai joined the PYP organization during her freshman year of high school, spending her first three years with the Portland Youth Conservatory Orchestra (PYCO) before moving up to the main PYP orchestra this year.
"I was very excited for it — it took a lot of work to get up there," Nakai said. "It's a fun, exciting environment and that probably motivated me to continue. Because it was so stressful, sometimes I thought, 'Maybe I won't do it next year,' but I continued all four years."
Li, meanwhile, has been involved at different levels of PYP since seventh grade. This was her second year performing with the main orchestra.
"I was a pianist before I started cello, and we had family friends who were in (PYP)," Li said. "I was looking to take music in a different direction ... piano is so much more soloist, and I really wanted that more social atmosphere."
Socolofsky will perform as the assistant principal flute at the May 6 show, which also features six musicians from Lake Oswego.