One of the many aspects of my new position at the Richmond Symphony that I love is the opportunity to interact with students and staff of the symphony’s wonderful Youth Orchestra Program. On Tuesday afternoons, more than two hundred young musicians from metropolitan Richmond and beyond gather downtown to make music in five ensembles. When I arrived in Richmond to begin my new position back in August, the most advanced of these ensembles – Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO) had already begun rehearsals for the season, and the other four ensembles began their seasons within a few weeks of my arrival. Now as the weather turns colder and the holidays draw near, the anticipation and excitement among all involved are palpable as we prepare for the first performances of the season.
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra
Sunday, November 17 at 7 pm
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond
Bernstein/Mason ~ Selections from West Side Story
Tchaikovsky ~ Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
Free and open to the public!
The Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program (YOP) is comprised of five ensembles:
String Sinfonietta, Christie-Jo Adams, conductor
Camerata Strings, Rebecca Jilcott, conductor
Wind Ensemble, Christopher Moseley, conductor
Youth Concert Orchestra, Dr. Sandy Goldie, conductor
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, Daniel Myssyk, conductor
Richmond Symphony YOP is Central Virginia’s premiere youth orchestra experience. Students travel from far and wide to attend weekly rehearsals: from Fredericksburg to the north, Williamsburg to the east, Petersburg to the south, and Charlottesville to the west. Students are coached by members of the Richmond Symphony throughout the season, and perform concerts throughout the year. “Students are required to participate in their school music programs.” says Richmond Symphony Assistant Director of Education Logan Massey. “This creates an ecosystem which allows us to enrich school programs as well as be enriched by them. I’m eager to sustain the Richmond Symphony’s many existing partnerships with local and regional school music programs, and also to create new ones.”
This article focuses on Sunday’s RSYO Fall Concert. It is the first of many this season, and features RSYO, our “flagship” youth ensemble.
RSYO rehearses every Tuesday from 4:45 – 7 pm, and occasionally for added Saturday and dress rehearsals. Students in RSYO represent twenty-three schools in the region! as well as homeschooled students, and range from grades 7 – 12. RSYO’s conductor is Daniel Myssyk, who is in his second season as Assistant Conductor for the Richmond Symphony and as conductor of RSYO. Professor Daniel Myssyk has been Virginia Commonwealth University’s Director of Orchestral Activities since 2007.
I asked Professor Myssyk about the repertoire that RSYO will perform on Sunday’s concert, and he talked about his passion for Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, which RSYO has been rehearsing every Tuesday afternoon since I started working for the Richmond Symphony:
We all crave for happiness. Tchaikovsky’s own quest for happiness ended tragically. Fate, the main theme of the first movement, has its own ominous way to present itself. For the composer, fate was seen as an overwhelming and indomitable force, clearly represented in the brass at the beginning of the symphony. In comparison, the other movements of the piece appear to be more serene, with tones of good humor, in the case of the third. While the second movement shows a main melody echoing music from a distant past, on a pizzicato accompaniment that might recall the lute, its last movement is a pure blast of energy and fervor, and mostly optimistic. But the last minute resurgence of the fate theme compromises the idea of a joyful ending, and comes back to haunt a perplexed listener, left with the idea that fate may knock at the door at the least expected moment.~ Daniel Myssyk
The Richmond Symphony YOP is managed by Logan Massey, who began his tenure as Assistant Director of Education for the Richmond Symphony in June 2019. Logan grew up in Central Virgina, moved to Chicago for graduate school in 2006, and after graduating from DePaul University with a Master’s degree in Trumpet Performance, became immersed in community music at the Merit School of Music, where he was Program Director. “I’m excited to bring what I’ve learned in Chicago and at Merit back home to Virginia!” said Logan.
Sunday’s concert is free and open to the public, as are all Richmond Symphony YOP concerts – these events are funded by the parents of students in YOP, in order to enable anyone from the community who wishes to attend to do so. It is the first RSYO concert of the season, and will be followed by a “Side By Side’ performance of Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz with both RSYO and the Richmond Symphony on February 9, 2020; and by a performance on May 16, 2020 with violin soloist Ning Feng, who is a former prizewinner of the Menuhin Competition and a juror for the 2020 Competition, which will be held in Richmond.
Stay tuned for information on our next YOP Concert, which will be held on December 8, 2019, and will feature performances from other ensembles in the program.