Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Albuquerque Youth Symphony Concert

The 2009-2010 Albuquerque Youth Symphony had its first concert on Sunday, September 20, in Popejoy Hall at the University of New Mexico. The kids played a very difficult program, which included The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Dukas, the Overture to Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky, the world premiere of an orchestral arrangement of Kokopelli: His Flutesong by Michael Mauldin, and Aria in Classic Style by Grandjany. (The latter piece, a harp concerto, featured Bethany Roper, a member of our ward and Kiley's friend, as soloist.) I thought everything sounded great, although the reduced-in-size-but-still-loud orchestra backing Bethany in her concerto tended to drown her harp out a little. (A little amplification might have been in order, anathema though that concept may be to purists.) The photos above show (a) the entire group on stage, (b) Kiley with Bethany in the lobby following the concert, (c) Dorine, and (d) Kiley.

Kiley is in the last stages of selecting a new cello. It's essentially come down to either a Gaetano Colas or a Gunter Von Aue, although I think Kiley will settle on the Colas in the end. (The Von Aue is about 2/3 the price of the Colas -- and, in Kiley's words, it has "an amazing C string," which has kept it in the running -- but, within a certain limitation, price is not our overriding concern.) We've found, surprisingly and dismayingly for me, that the bow plays almost as big a role in the sound a stringed instrument makes as the instrument itself, so we may be upgrading there as well. We'll see.

[Update, October 12: Kiley eventually settled on a Jay Haide cello, which was more expensive than either the Colas or the Von Aue, but still in our price range. Kiley hadn't cared for the sound of the first couple of Haides that she tried out, but Robertson & Sons had two others when we went back down, both of which sounded much better to Kiley's ear. One, however, sounded more balanced in timbre and volume across all the strings, plus it seemed to suit Kiley's playing technique slightly better, so that's the one we bought. After Kiley took it to her first AYS rehearsal, I, perhaps feeling a little "proud" of the fact that we'd gotten her a better instrument, asked her if she'd received any comments from other kids in the orchestra. Instructively, her stand-mate (who, while not quite as accomplished musically as Kiley, obviously comes from a more-moneyed family) said that her 3/4 cello -- i.e., the cello she'd played as a young girl -- had been a Haide. Needless to say, that was a little deflating, but that's what I get for being smug; we simply don't swim in the same ocean as most AYS families.]