It’s their turn now
Recorder file photo/Trish Crapo
The Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra — shown during a rehearsal in this file photo — will present a free concert Saturday, April 12, at 4 p.m. at Northampton High School, 380 Elm St., Northampton.
GREENFIELD (December 7, 2013) — A young cellist concentrates during a Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth orchestra rehearsal held at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (December 7, 2013) — Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra director Jonathan Brennand leads musicians through a rehearsal at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (December 7, 2013) — Member of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra wind section play flutes and oboes during a rehearsal held at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (December 7, 2013) — Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra director Jonathan Brennand conducts during a rehearsal held at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD (December 7, 2013) — Members of the brass section of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra practice during a rehearsal held at Greenfield Middle School on Saturday. Recorder/Trish Crapo
GREENFIELD — On Saturday at 7 p.m., a talented group of young musicians will take the stage to perform their inaugural concert as the Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Thanks to the efforts of their conductor Jonathan Brennand and others who thought it was time area youth had a place to play their strings, winds, brass instruments, drums, keyboards and harps, musicians under the age of 20 will gather on stage in the Greenfield Middle School auditorium and show parents, family, friends and the community just how hard they’ve worked over the past several months.
“We felt the time was right to push the idea for a youth orchestra,” said 27-year-old Brennand, who is also assistant director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra. “When I heard some mumbling about starting a youth orchestra, I approached Artspace to discuss how we could make that happen.”
He said Artspace in Greenfield loved the idea and together they began to lay the groundwork.
Brennand said what had been missing in the area was a viable string component to create a youth orchestra.
“Artspace has been teaching strings to kids for the past six years, so we thought we’d have a good beginning,” said Brennand. “The time was right, because PVS was celebrating its 75th anniversary and we thought creating a youth orchestra would be a good way to celebrate, as well as prime some of our younger musicians to maybe someday join the adult orchestra. It seemed like the year to do it.”
It was this past spring that Brennand said everyone “got down to business.”
“We knew there were area schools that had good band programs, so we knew we’d be able to draw students from them,” said Brennand.
He said he doesn’t believe there’s anything like the youth orchestra in this area, if not the entire state.
“This is good for these youth for so many reasons,” said Brennand. “Not only does it give them the opportunity to hone their skills, but when you play in an ensemble, you learn collaboration and discipline and work ethics.”
Brennand said young musicians also enjoy the social aspect of playing with others.
“They are also exposed to music they might not have been otherwise,” he said.
Brennand said area youth must audition for a place with the orchestra.
“It’s more about ability than age,” he said.
The orchestra has been rehearsing every Saturday for two hours since September.
“These kids are willing to give up their Saturday afternoons to do something they seem to really love,” he said.
Brennand said he would eventually like to see enough area youths join so that a junior and senior youth orchestra can be created.
“This has been a real collaboration of the PVS, the middle school for allowing us the rehearsal and performance space, and Artspace,” said Brennand.
He said what will make the youth orchestra successful will be the players and the community.
“You need both,” he said. “You need young people who want to learn and perform, but you also need a community that is willing to support the group and attend its performances.”
Brennand grew up in England and started his musical training when he was 5 years old.
“I sang in a boys choir that sang all over the country,” he said. “I also began learning violin when I was 5.”
Later, he and his family move to the United States. He spent the first summer after college graduation as an assistant conductor with the College Light Opera Co. in Falmouth.
“Great conductors and colleagues inspired me,” he said. “I decided I wanted to conduct.”
Brennand said he got into the valley music scene and taught at Artspace for a while.
“I look back to what a great impression music made on me when I was younger and I want to help do that for someone else,” said Brennand. “The best times I’ve had have been in music.”
The youth orchestra, which is sponsored by grants from Target Corp. and Beveridge Family Foundation, will perform “Dance of the Tumblers” and “The Andante,” as well as “Hopak,” “Russian Sailor’s Dance ” and “The Finale.”
The Pioneer Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform on Saturday in Greenfield Middle School on Federal Street at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.
Brennand said there will be auditions in January and a spring concert in April in Northampton.
For more information on the youth orchestra or performances and audition dates and times, visit: www.pvsoc.org/youth-programs. Also, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.