[ In the Press ]

American Youth Symphony fine-tunes new pieces for season opening

Timo Andres '07BA, '09MM
October 3, 2013

By Shreya Aiyar
Daily Bruin • 
University of California, Los Angeles

AmericanYouthSymphonyAn eerie, spectral sound drifts from the recesses of Schoenberg Hall, where an orchestra rehearsal for a Royce Hall performance takes place.

At first, the dissonant melody makes little sense as the string instruments climb higher and higher on steps of parallel fifths, the woodwinds and brass attempting to follow.

But the musicians know to keep the intent of the composer, Timo Andres, in mind. American Youth Symphony music director Alexander Treger said that Andres notes the discordant piece should sound as if it came from the bottom of an enormous bathtub.

On Sunday, the American Youth Symphony will debut its 49th concert season in Royce Hall with works from notable composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Hector Berlioz and Andres. The members’ creative spirit in the face of difficult musical interpretations, such as in Andres’ composition, helps to begin a brand new season on the right note, Treger said.

This season’s pieces include Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” which will feature principal cellist Allan Steele, a cello student at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and Andres’ “Bathtub Shrine.”

Originally written for the Yale Symphony Orchestra, “Bathtub Shrine” was written in honor of Woolsey Hall, a performance venue on the Yale University campus known for its echoing acoustics, Treger said.

Amy Tang, a fourth-year violin performance and English student who is playing with the symphony for a second year, said the contemporary piece presented a different musical challenge for the orchestra than the other two Romantic era pieces.

“When we first rehearsed (‘Bathtub Shrine’), Maestro Treger said it’s supposed to sound like everything is out of place,” Tang said. “The piece is very eerie and misty, and even though it sounds like everything is disoriented, it’s all very structured in its own way.”