On May 15, Curb Youth Symphony and the Nashville Symphony combined forces 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 Side By Side event was conducted for the second year in a row by Nashville Symphony Music Director & Conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. On Monday and Tuesday last week, we enjoyed sharing our symphony home with many of Middle Tennessee’s most accomplished teenage musicians, as they rehearsed and performed alongside our own Nashville Symphony musicians as we prepared for and enjoyed this much anticipated annual event.
The collaboration of the Nashville Symphony with Curb Youth Symphony is a continuing thrill for high school musicians of the Blair School of Music. All year long, Nashville Symphony musicians do sectional rehearsals and masterclasses at Blair, helping students hone their craft, build repertoire skills and develop artistry. Their influence is profound and sincerely appreciated. Rehearsing and performing the annual Side by Side concert under the masterful baton of Giancarlo Guerrero and sitting next to their musical heroes in Laura Turner Concert Hall is a memory they will treasure forever.
~ Pam Schneller
Associate Dean, Blair School of Music
The featured soloist at this year’s Side By Side concert was pianist Sean Wang, winner of the Nashville Symphony’s 2018 Curb Concerto Competition. Sean’s performance of the third movement of the Piano Concerto in F# minor, Op. 20 by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin accompanied by Maestro Guerrero and the Nashville Symphony opened the Side by Side concert.
Sean is an 11th grade student at Houston High School in Germantown, Tennessee, and studies piano with Yukiko Whitehead. An accomplished percussionist and vocalist as well, he is a seven-time winner of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association’s State Piano Competition (2011-2017), recently took home two awards at the 2018 Emory University Young Artist Piano Competition, and also earned first chair percussion in the 2017 All-State Band. Highlights of Yang’s extensive performance résumé include an appearance on WPLN’s Live in Studio C in the summer of 2017.
I was both feeling excited and nervous about the performance as I drove from Memphis to Nashville, but as I got to talk with Conductor Giancarlo and rehearse with the symphony, I felt much more confident, and I really looked forward to the performance. In some parts of the piece, I could only smile due to the sheer beauty coming from the symphony. During the performance, I simply enjoyed the moment, and the energy of the audience as well as the musicians really helped to make this performance a memory I will cherish and continue to reflect on. In the end, I was reminded of the relationships that music provides when I was able to greet familiar faces from Governor’s School such as the current members of the Youth Symphony as well as teachers such as Dr. Jerome Reed of Lipscomb. Thank you Nashville for a wonderful time!
~ Sean Yang
After the superlative performance of the Scriabin concerto movement, Curb Youth Symphony joined the Nashville Symphony on stage. The combined rosters of two symphony orchestras performing as one is powerful to experience, and the repertoire chosen by Maestro Guerrero for this concert showcased the at times overwhelming sonic impact having such forces marshaled on stage can provide the listener.
The Side by Side commenced with an enthusiastic performance of the famous Capriccio espagnol, Op. 34 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This bravura showpiece features several challenging solos for the woodwinds, as well as grand gestures for harp and percussion, all of which were executed by students with grace and aplomb.
After the intermission, the side by side orchestras concluded the concert with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 in its entirety. Maestro Guerrero and the gargantuan orchestra brought a full palette with which to paint Tchaikovsky’s expansive and dramatic masterpiece for the largest audience yet assembled for a Side by Side concert. The evening was a tour-de-force.
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.
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.
It’s always exciting to share the stage with the Curb young folks. Playing Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony is always a powerful experience but to get to make it come alive with people who are doing it for the first time… well, the excitement is palpable! It was especially gratifying for me as all three of the young oboists who joined us are my students. During the rehearsal, I sat in the house to hear what they sounded like, and needless to say, they sounded wonderful!
~ Roger Wiesmeyer
English Horn, Nashville Symphony
Adjunct Associate Professor of Oboe, Blair School of Music
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Side By Side 2018