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Youth movement for Symphony in the Valley

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When she took over as director of the Symphony in the Valley in 1996, Wendy Larson, who has a degree in music education from the University of North Colorado, noticed a troubling disparity. There were numerous young musicians in her Glenwood Springs-based orchestra currently, approximately a third of the 63-member orchestra are young players but there were few opportunities for them to play outside Symphony in the Valleys annual series of concerts. And there were virtually no chances for a young musician to take a turn as a soloist.From the get-go, we had young people in the symphony, said Larson, who began as a cellist in Symphony in the Valley when the organization was formed, in 1993. But when we started, there were no string programs, no orchestra programs, in any of the local public schools.So in 1998, Symphony in the Valley instituted a scholarship program, aimed at providing lessons for young musicians from the orchestra. And three years ago, Larson and the symphony took a chance and created the Young Artists Concerto Competition, the winners of which were given the opportunity to play as soloists at the annual Mothers Day Concerts. Larson had some trepidation at first, but has been so encouraged by the results that this year when Symphony in the Valley is celebrating its Year of the Child the program is expanded to include a vocal competition, and an opportunity for a young conductor to take the podium.Four young musicians will appear in the Symphony in the Valleys Mothers Day Concerts this weekend, set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Glenwood Springs High School. Aspen High School freshman Aaron Poh will perform a movement from Mozarts Piano Concerto No. 12 in A major. Secia Klocke, a Glenwood High senior, will sing My Mans Gone Now, from Gershwins Porgy & Bess. Lindsay Nelson, a fourth-grader at Aspen Country Day School, will sing Engelbert Humperdincks Song of the Sandman.Also on the program are Prokofievs Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Steve Cole; two pieces from Holsts The Planets, and Mussorgskys Hopak from the Young Ukrainians.Joining Larson and associate conductor John Bokram for the program is 17-year-old Zachariah Milby. Milby, a junior at Glenwoods Bridges High School and a New Castle resident, will conduct Mozarts Symphony No. 1 in E flat major, a piece written when the composer was 8.Milby began studying violin when he entered the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, as a fifth-grader. By eighth grade, Milby was enjoying the instrument enough that he took music instructor Lorraine Currys suggestion that he supplement his education with private lessons. Milby has had private instruction from Suzanne Nadeau Porter for the past three years.Conducting has come through his own initiative. In 2002, Milby arranged a suite from one of the Lord of the Rings movies for his class to perform. He also told Curry that he wanted to conduct it himself.She taught me how to beat things in some pretty standard times, like 4/4, 3/4, and more obscure things, like 5/4, said Milby. It was like a lunchtime thing.Milby held even less-formal conducting sessions. On several occasions, late at night, he and a friend whom Milby describes as a very flamboyant conductor, very entertaining would practice waving the baton on their own. Id show him how to beat each particular time signature. It felt very dictatorial, very fun, said Milby.Milby has been a violinist with Symphony in the Valley for three years. He also plays in a string quartet, performs at weddings, teaches violin at the Waldorf School, and, on piano, accompanies the Waldorf Schools third- and fourth-grade eurythmy classes. Next fall, he is scheduled to make his debut as an instrumental soloist, performing a movement of Mendelssohns Violin Concerto in E minor with Symphony in the Valley.Milby recognizes that his taste for classical music sets him apart from most of his peers. I dont think a lot of kids my age really would want to study violin as I do, he said. They think the violin is neat but I dont think theyd want to play it.It might be that people arent at the point in their lives where they want to express things. But I have something I want to express.Stewart Oksenhorns e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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