The Sound of You Mahler or Rite of Spring with a youth orchestra? Yes, and much more. As career choice or stepping-stone, conducting advanced teenaged musicians can bring rich rewards.
by Chester Lane
his winter, Stephen Rogers Radcliffe’s head was alive with the music of Verdi, Bernstein, and Schubert. As music director of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras organization, he was in the final stage of preparing his most advanced group (the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, or SYSO), for their February concert at Benaroya Hall. The program included Verdi’s Overture to La Forza del Destino, the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9 in C (“Great”). But Radcliffe also had Mahler on his mind, because he’d scheduled the composer’s Second Symphony (“Resurrection”) for the SYSO’s third and final concert of the season, a May 23 performance with Seattle Choral Company, an adult community chorus. So in addition to honing the February program, Radcliffe had been holding reading sessions for the Mahler. “The kids have been coming to rehearsals knowing the music and struggling with the sections that every orchestra struggles with,” he says. “But they’ve really been able to read through it.” >>