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An Afternoon of Dazzling Music

CSULA Olympic Youth Orchestra concert wows the crowd

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The Olympia Philharmonic Society

The Olympia Philharmonic Society

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Facebook/Olympia Youth Orchestra

The Olympia Philharmonic Society

David Czinner, Contributor

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The Olympia Youth Orchestra and CSULA Symphony orchestra combined their groups’ musical talents to present a well organized program consisting of music by Beethoven, Dvorak, Liszt and Lalo. The Olympia Philharmonic merges the skills of a variety of performers, from CSULA students, alums, and other students.

The ensemble is directed by Fung Ho, who serves as Music director and Conductor. Aside from maintaining a busy performance schedule, Mr. Ho is on the faculty of CSULA where he instructs applied violin and teaches orchestra.

The Leonora Overture No. 2 by Beethoven is a beautiful piece that preludes the dramatic and politically charged Opera Fidelio. As is Beethovens style, the music was dramatic and filled with passion. Fung Ho did a marvelous job in interpreting and shaping the music, emphasizing key moments and bringing alive the emotional intensity that is Beethovens style. He had similar success conducting Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 Opus 88, accentuating the expressive and eloquent style in Dvorak’s writing creating a moving presentation.

Totentanz by Franz Liszt, the featured piece of the afternoon, couldn’t have had a more appropriate soloist than pianist John Carpenter. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music as well as a specialist in technically demanding romantic repertoire, Mr. Carpenter played the intense high speed scalar and arpeggiated passages with such ease that made the piece look simple. Mr. Carpenter’s musical performance combined with the knowledgeable direction of Fung Ho created an intense atmosphere that kept the audience on edge. Liszt, known for being a notorious virtuoso, performed and composed music that only the bravest and most technically proficient of pianists attempt to learn and present.

The difficulty level of the Symphonie Espagnole Opus 21 by Lalo can be heard in the opening 3 note motif that starts moderately low and then ascends to a very high pitch. High pitches are particularly difficult on the violin due to the nature of the instrument, as it becomes a tremendous challenge to maintain the pitches in tune. Even for many college level violinists, playing this motif technically and expressively is a huge demand that 11 year old Chunyl Zhou played with simplicity.

“The first time we actually put the piece together with [Ms. Zhou], it sounded amazing” said Frances Wu, a Violinist in the CSULA Orchestra string section and second year music education major. Ms. Zhou’s musical sensitivity was inspiring and left the audience surprised that such a mature presentation could come from someone so young. It was truly a spectacular performance and we will definitely be hearing much more of Ms. Zhou in the future.

Information on how to join the ensemble is available on their website olympiaphil.org. They can be heard next on May 15, 2017 at the Cal State LA State Playhouse.

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An Afternoon of Dazzling Music