5 Things to Know About Sunday’s Youth Orchestras of Fresno ‘Holiday Spectacular’

1. Two-hundred-plus musicians make a lot of merry sound.

The three ensembles of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno are mighty, and to listen to them in the acoustically superior Shaghoian Concert Hall is to hear them in a great setting. The event is “Holiday Spectacular: A Concert from Youth Orchestras of Fresno.” YOOF features the Youth Chamber Orchestra (with players as young as 5), Youth Symphony Orchestra and the most advanced of the group, the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (median age 15). They’ll perform separately, but nothing beats the massed group holiday numbers for sheer cheer. Adam Elmore and Music Director Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.

2. You know those youngest players? They aren’t playing ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’

They will be performing works by Brahms, Coleridge-Taylor, Grieg and Schubert.

3. And their older colleagues? Try Shostakovich on for size.

Specifically, we’re talking the searing Fifth Symphony. Executive director Julia Copeland explains that the piece was written at the height of the Stalinist purges of 1937 and called by the composer “a response to my critics” during a time when his music was banned by the Soviets. One scholar asks, when assessing this symphony, “Is the blatant patriotic fervor emblematic of Shostakovich’s desire to please his comrades, or a genuine outburst of love for his homeland? Or is it an extreme form of irony, ingeniously straddling both sides of a dangerous abyss?”

4. There’s so much music, it spills over into intermission.

The percussion ensemble and the youngest Access Violin Program students will perform in the lobby. Go ahead, stretch your legs. You’ll get a payoff.

5. Classical music is great for new brains.

Audiences are usually discouraged from bringing young people to live concerts, which is kind of sad when you think about it, because early exposure is great for neurological development (and also helps cultivate future music lovers. Says Copeland: “Bring the kids! Kids are playing! The Youth Orchestras love to have an audience filled with young people—even very, very young people.”

Show info

‘Holiday Spectacular: A Concert from Youth Orchestras of Fresno,’ 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, Shaghoian Hall, 2700 International Ave. Fresno. Admission is free; donations at the door are encouraged. Reserved seating available.

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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