Members of the Empire State Youth Orchestra shut down the house with a robust symphony performance of four classical pieces at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Saturday night. As the musicians took to the stage, excitement rose in the room as everyone got ready to celebrate ESYO’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. The crowded room had a diverse audience of young and old, supporting family members and fans of classical music alike. Renowned for its amazing acoustics, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall served as a perfect venue.
With as much animation as the small box on which he stood would allow, conductor Carlos Agreda drew exactly what was needed out of the 100 Capital Region middle and high school students sitting on stage.
Opening the concert was Dmitri Shostakovich’s ‘Festive Overture OP.96.’ This celebrative piece, while the shortest of the night, was the perfect set up for what was to come. ESYO Alumni Kenneth Olsen took the stage to perform the solo of the four movement ‘Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra’ by Edward Elgar. Hailing from the Albany area and a graduate of Colonie High School, Olsen feverishly tore through the piece all from memory which brought the crowd to their feet in applause.
After a brief intermission the audience returned to their seats for the final two pieces. First up was the wildly popular Overture to ‘Die Fledermaus’ by Johann Strauss Jr., bringing another witty and playful piece to the set before the musicians settled in for their most complex piece of the night. The grandeur sounds of composer Ottorino Respighi filled the venue as the students undertook the ‘Pines of Rome’ with near perfection. Through four movements, using various melodies and rhythms including a recording of a nightingale, the audience was transported to another time and place.
Agreda asked at the beginning of the concert, “Why ESYO? Why should one support the arts?” The smiling faces and teary eyes from nearly every person in the room was answer enough. ESYO provides students a chance at pursuing musical excellence and reminding us all that music speaks where words fail.
Be sure to check out ESYO’s website for the upcoming 2019-2020 season including their annual Melodies of Christmas at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady.
ESYO Upcoming Concert Dates
Nov. 24 – TBA
Dec. 6 – Fransworth Middle School – Guilderland, NY
Dec. 15 – Massry Center for the Arts, College of Saint Rose – Albany, NY
Dec. 19-22 – Proctors Theatre – Schenectady, NY (Melodies of Christmas)
Feb. 1 – Crossgates Mall – Albany, NY
Feb. 12 – Clayton B. Bouton High School – Voorheesville, NY
Feb. 13 – TBA
Feb. 27 – Massry Center for the Arts, College of Saint Rose – Albany, NY
Mar. 9 – UAlbany Performing Arts Center – Albany, NY
Mar. 29 – UAlbany Performing Arts Center – Albany, NY
Apr. 1 – Proctor’s Theatre – Schenectady, NY
Apr. 26 – Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
May 1 – TBA
May 2 – Arthur Zankel Music Center, Skidmore College – Saratoga Springs, NY
May 3 – Brown School – Schenectady, NY
May 10 – Massry Center for the Arts, College of Saint Rose – Albany, NY
May 17 – Massry Center for the Arts, College of Saint Rose – Albany, NY
May 31 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
June 20 – GE Theatre at Proctors – Schenectady, NY