Walter Bitner

Home » Community » Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Side-By-Side with the Richmond Symphony, February 9

Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Side-By-Side with the Richmond Symphony, February 9

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Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, Daniel Myssyk, conductor after a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, November 17, 2019, Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond (click images to enlarge)


Next weekend, the young musicians of Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra in collaboration with the Richmond Symphony present our annual Side-By-Side concert: the culmination of months of work on the part of the students, and a highlight of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program (YOP) season. This year’s Side-By-Side promises to be a memorable occasion for all, as 125 musicians gather together on stage to perform Hector Berlioz’s monumental Symphonie Fantastique.

Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra
Side-By-Side with the
Richmond Symphony

Sunday, February 9 at 7:30 pm
Carpenter Theatre, Dominion Energy Center, Richmond

GABRIELI              Sonata XIII a 8, Canzoni Et Sonate, No. 206
STAMITZ              Allegro from Viola Concerto in D major, Op. 1

Daniel Snell, viola
Winner of the 2020 Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition

BERLIOZ               Symphonie Fantastique

Free and open to the public!


“It’s an incredible experience for young musicians to sit alongside professionals and perform together!” said Logan Massey, Assistant Director of Education for the Richmond Symphony. “Our students learn so much from Richmond Symphony musicians over the course of the season through regular sectional rehearsals, attending Richmond Symphony performances, and in many cases, symphony players are also their private teachers. But the opportunity to sit next to your mentor and perform a beloved masterpiece together is a special event.”

The 64 student musicians of Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO) will combine with 61 Richmond Symphony professionals for a massive 125-piece orchestra to perform the colossal Symphonie Fantastique.

I heard Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique for the first time while I was still a teenager: a memorable performance conducted by Charles Dutoit with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. I remember very clearly how I jumped off my seat after the last chord, and started shouting a set of BRAVI like if I were in a trance! People in attendance must have thought I was under some kind of spell as their worried look seemed to indicate. Each movement was infused with perfect character and the atmosphere at the end of this long programmatic journey was so perfectly rendered that I couldn’t help but keep shouting.

Daniel Myssyk

Everything about this composition seems new and modern; it certainly was at the time of the composition, whether we are talking about its formal design or its inventive orchestration. There are even places where chords use structures that will commonly be displayed in 20th Century music. You can tell how Berlioz’s creative mind was different compared to his contemporaries. The gestures drawn in the most lyrical passages are reaching a point of expression very seldom encountered prior to this work, and the emotional charge of the piece should not escape the listener, whether they are familiar with the program established by the composer or not.

~ Daniel Myssyk, conductor
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra


Students in RSYO represent twenty-three schools in the region! as well as homeschooled students, and range from grades 7 – 12. Our most advanced ensemble rehearses every Tuesday from 4:45 – 7 pm, and occasionally for added Saturday and dress rehearsals. During this concert cycle, RSYO students also had special opportunities to rehearse sections of Symphonie Fantastique with Richmond Symphony Music Director Candidates Ankush Kumar Bahl and Laura Jackson as part of preparations for this concert.

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.

Daniel Snell

This year’s Side-By-Side concert also features two other performances. The concert will open with a performance of a double-choir canzona by the sixteenth century Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli, performed by RSYO Brass joined by Richmond Symphony Principal Trombone Evan Williams. Following the brass section performance, Violist Daniel Snell, winner of the 2020 Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, will perform the first movement of the Viola Concerto in D Major, Op. 1 by Carl Philipp Stamitz (1745 – 1801), accompanied by the Richmond Symphony.  Stamitz was a contemporary of Mozart.

I am grateful for this opportunity to perform with the Richmond Symphony! This has been a dream of mine since I first attended a symphony concert at the Carpenter Theatre.  Being a part of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra has been one of the greatest experiences of my life, so I’m especially excited to bring my music to this audience on Sunday night.

~ Daniel Snell


“Side-By-Side concerts are a kind of hallowed tradition in the symphony orchestra world.” said Logan Massey. “Many Richmond Symphony musicians played in youth orchestras themselves when they were teens, and have firsthand experience of playing Side-By-Side with their own teachers and mentors. Concerts like this one are an integral part of sparking interest in the next generation of orchestral musicians.”

Neal Cary

The Richmond Symphony and the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Side-By-Side concert is always a thrilling experience for me. Of course, having two orchestras combined, performing some of the greatest orchestra music ever written, creates a sound that is rich and massive from such a large number of musicians on stage, but most importantly, these rehearsals and performance are invaluable learning experiences for our younger youth orchestra musicians.

But it is not only the members of the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra that benefit. Through this Side-By-Side experience, the professional musicians of the Richmond Symphony are reminded of the enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism of our younger colleagues, and the very reasons we were inspired to dedicate our lives to the performance of orchestra music. Since music can only live through performance, it is deeply satisfying to know that these wonderful musicians of tomorrow are up to the task of keeping this great music alive. Come out and support this most important performance!
~ Neal Cary
Principal Cello, Richmond Symphony


The Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program is proudly supported by:

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