From Texas Public Radio:
One of the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) is going international, performing works in the cities where they were written. Last week, in a music hall on the University of Texas at San Antonio campus young people ages 14 to 18 were rehearsing for a tough performance tour to a highly revered place for music lovers.
Conductor Troy Peters stopped them abruptly. “So, there’s a lot of rust right now you guys. And please remember that in like 6 days we’re going to be in Prague in one of the most important concert halls in Europe, in front of a lot of people who’ve known this piece since they were little kids. So we have to be ready to play this thing in front of Czechs. People who know this music. Let’s go all the way back to letter C please.”
The orchestra begins again. The young musicians have been playing this music for months, but before today, they’ve had six weeks off. I sat down with Peters who said they’re going to Budapest, Prague, and one other very musical city.
“We’re going to Vienna which is one of the most important cities in classical music and for our students to be able to walk the streets where Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven worked is beyond measure in its value. We’re going to be in central Europe in places that have been a huge part of international news in the last year. And there’s no better way to understand and learn about that than to be there and see it firsthand.”
YOSA says it changes kids’ lives through music and to Peters one of the ways to really change their lives means playing music on foreign shores.
“Tours happen every two years at YOSA. Two years ago we were in Quebec. Four years ago we were in England and Wales. Two years from now we’ll be somewhere else that we’ll start talking about soon.”
But first they’ve got to get ready. And getting ready means repeating each piece and examining it in great detail. Peters again puts the brakes on to make a point.
“Stop! Bassoons, please carry the sharps all the way through the measure. And the A sharp of the downbeat is good on the second note of the triplet, okay? Don’t leave out the A sharp later in the bar.” Then he directed the orchestra where to start. “Before the letter E two beats…”
The orchestra begins again, but Peters quickly stops them, noting a mistake that he, not they, had made.
“I may have misspoken,” he said as the kids laughed. “Two bars before letter E. I apologize!” And the music began again.
Aiden Alcocer plays French Horn with YOSA’s Philharmonic and he says he thrives on the pressure.
“The pressure–it makes the music more in the moment. There’s more things you can do with it when you’re under pressure. Being in YOSA just makes your musicianship so much higher because you show up to orchestra rehearsal and you need to know the music or your conductor’s going to get on you.”