With a 22-year-old conductor, a 13-year-old violin soloist and an orchestra composed of 14- to 23-year-olds, the concert Sunday by the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra was a feast of technically assured, rich-sounding performances--but a famine of probity, reflection and/or forethought.
The concert, in Royce Hall, UCLA, was a cause celebre for Lucas Richman, the conductor/composer who is serving as the conductor-in-training with the ensemble. The title is apt: While Richman has some enormous gifts--especially a knack for highlighting emotional undercurrents in a score--his sense of proportion is not yet defined, as an exciting if occasionally wayward and too-deliberate performance of Sibelius' First Symphony revealed.
Richman also conducted the premiere of his "Symphonic Ode" on the horrors of the Holocaust. The work, while betraying noteworthy compositional craft, was too noisy and disjointed by half. Perhaps the subject carries too much emotional weight for Richman to deal with properly just now.
Sunday's concert also showcased the debut local concerto appearance of the 13-year-old Chicago violinist Jasmine Lin. Her reading of Saint-Saens' Concerto No. 3 proved a technically assured but emotionally deficient affair. Lin's technique is unorthodox but powerful and her range of sounds is precociously wide, but much of her playing Sunday had a distinctively programmed quality.