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OCYSO, Beckman High joint concert brings out best in both orchestras

OCYSO, Beckman High joint concert brings out best in both orchestras


More than 150 young musicians from two orchestras joined forces May 14 to present one season-finale concert at the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University. The students play for the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, directed by Daniel Alfred Wachs, and Beckman High School’s chamber orchestra, directed by Jim Kollias.

Members of the Beckman and OCYSO ensembles had crossed paths several times throughout the school year, prompting Wachs to invite Beckman to perform with his group. Though the two had never played together, their members had participated in some of the same master classes, including one in January that featured the Kronos Quartet.

“(OCYSO has) twice partnered with OCSA, and it seemed only natural to continue building new collaborations with other top-notch music programs in Orange County and SoCal,” said Wachs. “In fact, it is a part of OCYSO’s mission to support all of the programs throughout SoCal. Beckman’s orchestra is simply outstanding, and we were thrilled to double our forces in a marvelous program on the Musco Center’s magnificent stage.”

OCYSO provides pre-professional training to talented musicians in eighth grade through college, and Wachs says working with other orchestras in the community gives his students varied performance opportunities that develop their creativity, self-expression and desire for perfection.

Before taking the stage, several students from both orchestras expressed their excitement about working together on the same music.

“It’s really amazing for such a big group of people to be focused on the same thing,” said senior OCYSO violinist Christina Dubell. “If you do the same thing all the time you could get stuck in a rut, so it’s cool to see the community come together and inspire each other.”

Beckman senior Katie McNamara admitted that though the collaboration was a little intimidating, she embraced the extra push.

“I think especially as a high school musician when we have so many other activities and things happenings it can be hard to find that internal motivation,” she said. “When we merge with another orchestra, there is such a different dynamic, such a great energy.”

Each orchestra played a selection of songs from its own repertoire before joining for works by Jean Sibelius and John Williams.

“It is interesting because we have different rehearsals, different bowing, different styles,” said Beckman senior Elaine Huang. “The cool part is that it shows that sharing music is something we should all do.”

Huang and other musicians from both orchestras said that sharing a stage with an unfamiliar group of people emphasizes concepts they’ve heard throughout their years of study – like the fact that each section has a purpose and that taking cues off the director is a must.

The sheer size of the orchestra also had an impact on the students, not only because of the great sound it produced, but because of what they think it said about the future of classical music.

“In our modern culture, not many people just say, ‘Oh, I play Tchaikovsky on the weekend,’ but we (at Beckman) can say that, and when we work with other orchestras,  that’s a whole other group of people who can relate to that statement,” said Beckman junior Dana Chen.

Dubell had a similar thought when she considered the big picture of the joint concert.

“The longer I’ve played, the more people I’ve met,” she said. “By now I’m not worried about classical music going away because I’ve seen all these young musicians during collaborations, and we all love doing this.”

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