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MUSIC REVIEW

Youth group adds freshness to eloquence

Debut Orchestra tempers its strong solos with caution in a three-part program.

March 11, 2003|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

Youth orchestras offer freshness, competence and commitment. The seams and the effort often show, but that rarely detracts from the overall impact. That was the case when the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra played a three-part program Sunday at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The orchestra, which provides pre-professional training for musicians ages 14 to 25, was led by 26-year-old Joana Carneiro.

The program opened with what was billed as a world premiere but was actually a U.S. premiere of Michael Kamen's "Poem for Cello and Orchestra," an appealing lyrical work modeled on the flowing melody of Bach. Kamen is in his second of two years as the orchestra's BMI composer-in-residence; he wasn't at the concert because he working on a Kevin Costner movie, "Open Range," in Europe.

The composer wrote the reflective, roughly 12-minute work for his friend David Josefowitz, whose orchestra performed it in London last year. Bronwyn Banerdt, the Debut Orchestra's 18-year-old principal cellist and a USC student, was the eloquent though reserved soloist here.

Ko Sugiyama, a 17-year-old student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, was a strong soloist in Henri Wieniawski's Violin Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor. Understandably cautious in the work's bravura passages, he nonetheless had a firm grasp of the music's sweeping idiom. Carneiro was considerate of both soloists.

She also led a sturdy and solid performance of Elgar's "Enigma Variations" to close the program, revving up the musicians in the appropriate moments and keeping the recurring original theme, on which the work is based, evident in whatever part and whatever form it occurred.

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