By Charlene Baldridge | SDUN Reporter
The concertmaster wore a Santa hat, and there were antlers galore sprouting from the heads of other members of the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra as they played their inaugural concert as orchestra-in-residence at the New Children’s Museum on Dec. 16.
Children in the Mainly Mozart’s Youth Orchestra perform during their 2012 season. (Photo by Ling Zhu)
The audience was a mix of parents and patrons, proud of their progeny and the prowess of their orchestra under the baton of music director Hernan Constantino, who seemed very proud and tolerant of the kids’ décor as well. They played an enjoyable mix of well-arranged holiday favorites, including three selections from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”
The program was enhanced by the excellence of guest artist Austin Gatus, 17-year-old saxophone prodigy and a survivor of childhood leukemia, which was treated right here at Children’s Hospital. He serenaded the sellout crowd with an encore of Harold Arlen’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
The Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra was born in June, when Mainly Mozart merged with and renamed the Young Artist Symphony, one of San Diego’s oldest and most respected young musician training programs, according to Nancy Laturno Bojanic, Mainly Mozart’s founding executive director.
The group’s schedule includes several themed concerts: Jan. 26 (Happy Birthday, Mozart), March 16 (Celtic Tunes) and May 4 (Cinco de Mayo Celebration).
Throughout the past season, the 26-year-old Mainly Mozart morphed into a multifaceted entity with so many programs that each has its own master or mistress. Bojanic orchestrates it all, including the already extant series, Spotlight Chamber Music, in addition to Mozart & the Mind, Festival Chamber Players, Evolution, and the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra, which gathers in June for a month-long festival.
The latest innovations are a number of youth and adult amateur training programs set to launch early in 2014. It’s a win-win: Mainly Mozart’s professional musicians pass on their knowledge and expertise to young people and adult amateur musicians through these new programs, which take place at the grass-roots level during 2014 – 15. The application deadline for youth and adults who want to participate is Jan. 1.
Leadership Through Chamber Music is an extension of the Mainly Mozart Youth Symphony, open to strings, winds and brass from inside the youth symphony as well as others ages 12 to 23. Program participants will meet for two hours over 16 weeks in 2014, from January 11 through May 17. These sessions, held at Mesa Community College, are enhanced by interaction with Mainly Mozart’s renowned professional musicians and Mainly Mozart’s youthful and professional quartet-in-residence, the Hausmann Quartet, which “lives, eats and breathes chamber music,” according to Hausmann violinist Isaac Allen.
“The program will foster a renewed interest in chamber music by young people, who will become tomorrow’s chamber music players as well as passionate advocates of chamber music,” Allen said. “Collaboration is at the heart of chamber music, and this sort of symbiotic relationship promises to set the standard for youth chamber music programs throughout the country.”
Additionally, Mainly Mozart and the Hausmann shepherd an innovative six-day Youth Chamber Music Summer Camp June 16 – 21 on San Diego State’s campus, where Hausmann is also quartet-in-residence. In addition to group coaching from Hausmann players, participants take master classes in group and solo repertoire with Mainly Mozart’s world-class musicians and SDSU faculty. They work all week on chamber music, attend concerts including those of the Mainly Mozart Festival Orchestra and also perform at SDSU’s Don Powell Theatre as well as on the stage of the Balboa Theatre.
Adults are not ignored. For the ultimate adult musical adventure, a three-day Adult Amateur Chamber Music Camp is planned for May 30 – June 1 at SDSU.
(l to r) Hausmann Quartet members Angela Choong, Jeremiah Shaw, Eric Chin and Isaac Allen (Coutesy Hausmann Quartet)
Also scheduled are Living Room “Concerts,” which are reading coaching sessions for adult amateurs in private homes in January and June.
“Getting adults to pick up their instruments and take part in making music again is at the heart of these programs,” Bojanic said.
So dust off your violins, clarinets and saxophones. For more information visit the web site mainlymozart.org
or call Susan Laslavic at 619-239-0100, ext. 316.
Mainly Mozart’s six-month Jam Sessions begin in January in partnership with San Diego Rescue Mission and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. The program is designed to help underserved and ethnically diverse individuals to redefine themselves and reconnect with their environment.
For further information and application forms for these youth training programs, call Madeline Stewart at 619-239-0100, ext. 303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.