Last week – on Wednesday, May 17, Curb Youth Symphony joined the Nashville Symphony on the stage of Laura Turner Hall for our annual Side By Side concert. Curb Youth Symphony is directed by Carol Nies, and this year’s annual Side By Side event was conducted ( for the first time) by Nashville Symphony Music Director & Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. For two days many of Middle Tennessee’s most accomplished teenage musicians thronged the halls of Schermerhorn Symphony Center, rubbing shoulders with Nashville Symphony musicians backstage and sharing stands with them on stage as we rehearsed and performed this much anticipated event.
“It is always an honor to work in these side-by-side concerts;” said Giancarlo Guerrero. “I have lots of fun making music with these young musicians and watching them interact with the members of the Nashville Symphony. There is always so much energy and enthusiasm and it is a very rewarding experience!”
This year’s featured soloist at the Side By Side concert was violinist Kaili Wang, winner of the Nashville Symphony’s 2017 Curb Concerto Competition. Kaili was also the winner of the 2015 Curb Concerto Competition – this year’s first prize makes her the only two-time winner of the event, ever. Her performance of the first movement of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, Op. 47 accompanied by Maestro Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony opened Wednesday night’s concert. After Kaili’s sensitive yet powerful performance, members of the Curb Youth Symphony (CYS) joined the Nashville Symphony on stage for a performance of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14 in its entirety. It was a grand and memorable evening.
“Soloing with the Nashville Symphony on Wednesday night was wonderfully magical.” said Kaili Wang. “It was an event I anticipated with excitement for months, especially since I knew I would be working with Maestro Guerrero. He brought a contagious energy to the room that was so familiar from the concerts I’ve heard the Nashville Symphony perform – but this time, I was able to experience it as co-artist of Sibelius concerto.
“That night, I was reminded that a musical performance is not simply the result of the practice and rehearsals that precedes it. It is an active process of weaving a story real-time, listening to the music you’re making and responding to it by creating more music. I felt that every orchestra player, Maestro Guerrero and I created one story, and that is what made my experience that night so special.”
Curb Youth Symphony is a collaborative effort between the Nashville Symphony and Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, and the annual Side By Side concert is an important and culminating feature of this program. In addition to weekly rehearsals with Curb Youth Symphony director Carol Nies throughout the year, many Nashville Symphony musicians dedicate time to providing instruction and mentorship through sectionals and side-by-side rehearsals with these students. The Side By Side event represents our commitment to providing dedicated music students in Middle Tennessee with the opportunity to develop their musicianship not just in the classroom, but also on stage at Laura Turner Hall.
“For the Blair School of Music Curb Youth Symphony students, the annual Side-by-Side concert is a thrill.” said Pam Schneller, Associate Dean of Blair’s Precollege and Adult Programs and Senior Lecturer in Choral Music at Blair.
“For months, students work with conductor Carol Nies on the repertoire in Blair rehearsals, and have section rehearsals with symphony musicians. Performing in Laura Turner Hall next to Nashville Symphony members is exciting and student learning is multiplied dramatically. With Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero masterfully leading them in final rehearsals and concert on Wednesday night, the music-making rose to a whole new level of beauty in performance. It was an experience those students and their families will treasure for many years to come.”
Many symphony musicians regard events like this as vital to the experience of the professional orchestra musician, evoking nostalgia for their own youth orchestra experiences years ago. And for Curb Youth Orchestra students who are contemplating a career in music, the opportunity to perform in Laura Turner Hall under the baton of Giancarlo Guerrero alongside their mentors is a memory for a lifetime.