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High Life: A WEEKLY FORUM FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS : Their Work Is All Play in Italy : Music: Members of the American Youth Symphony got to visit the beach as well as play concerts on their weeklong tour. Seven are from Orange County.

September 02, 1993|EMILY ZARINS, Dana Hills High School

Swarming mosquitoes attended the concert in Ferrara, winds tipped over music stands and blew music into a fountain in Salerno, and, in Florence, the audience asked for more.

It was all in a week's work for the 100 members of the American Youth Symphony--including seven Orange County high school students--who toured Italy this summer.

Under the direction of Mehli Mehta, the Los Angeles-based orchestra opened music festivals in Ferrara, Salerno and Florence during a weeklong tour. The orchestra played four concerts of two programs, featuring Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and selections from "Swan Lake" and "Francesca da Rimini," and Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegels," "Der Rosenkavalier" and "Salome's Dance."

There was even an unscheduled concert en route. Somewhere over the Atlantic, a quartet broke out their instruments and played for an enthusiastic audience.

Between concerts in Italy, the musicians visited Adriatic beaches, danced at their bus driver's favorite discotheque and, in Florence, saw the Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo's sculpture of David and the Ponte Vecchio.

At its final concert of the tour, the orchestra played two encores at Teatro Comunale di Firenze in Florence.

The American Youth Symphony is a training orchestra that was formed by Mehta 28 years ago. Members rehearse every Saturday at UCLA. Among those who occasionally stroll into rehearsals is Mehta's son, Zubin, conductor of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.

More than 80 former members of the American Youth Symphony have joined professional orchestras in the United States, Canada, Europe, Israel and South America. Members, who range in age from 16 to 26 and live throughout Southern California, overcome stiff competition to be part of the group.

Seven violinists in the symphony are Orange County high school students: Deidre Foley of Mission Viejo; Yi Ching Song and Jonathan G. Hsiao, both of Placentia; Arden Lee of Fullerton; Michi Wiancko of San Clemente; Kristina Yoon of Buena Park, and Emily Zarins of Dana Point.

The American Youth Symphony performs six free Sunday evening concerts between October and May at Royce Hall, UCLA. It also performs an annual gala benefit concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, in which members have the opportunity to perform with internationally acclaimed featured soloists. This year, Andre Watts performed Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. Past soloists include Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Isaac Stern and Lynn Harrell.

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