It was an unforgettable experience–a first full length live symphony performance in Belize, by the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, and the triumphant coming out of the National Youth Orchestra of Belize, under the direction of Mr. Colville Young Jr..
YOA’s ebullient interpretation of the Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Symphony #2 would have been more than enough for theatre goers, but to this was added the contribution of the Belize National Youth Orchestra, which electrified the audience with its performance of Merle Isaac’s Gypsy Melody.
The twin billing was intended to be a musical epiphany for the newly renovated Memorial Park, hut hours of heavy rain on Sunday morning forced the concert indoors, to the quiet comfort of the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.
The National Youth Orchestra, 36 members strong with an impressive ensemble of strings- a full complement of 16 violins, apart from chellos, string bass and violas, rocked Isaac’s Gipsy Melody with a spirit and enthusiasm that brought thunderous applause.
Director Colville Young, so often cool and collected, plunged into the spirit of the music, and with his eager players produced something of great beauty and polish.
The musicians have been working together as an orchestra for a little less than two years, and this was its first big performance. It was an inspiring success.
It was immediately apparent that the Belize National Youth Orchestra has profited greatly from its association with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas – a happy collaboration that holds out much promise for players and performances.
When the YOA players took their place on stage, the audience had already been primed by the smooth delivery of the National Youth Orchestra of Belize, so that it waited in silent anticipation.
The audience was not disappointed. Rachmaninov in the hands of the YOA rocked, and in the fourth movement the crescendo vibrated the rafters of the Bliss and brought the audience to its feet in a standing ovation.
YOA Director, Mark Gillespie, probably lost a few pounds for all his exertions, and his youthful musicians were with him every baton-swipe of the way.
It was a memorable performance and his players were so taken up in the mood that they produced their own impromptu mini concert after the performance with popular Latin melodies that many in the audience stayed back to enjoy.
The night started off with a charming medley of Creole folk songs performed by the National Youth Choir of Belize under the direction of Cindy Crawford.
Cindy Crawford has a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education, specializing in voice training. Her work with the little ones showed great promise.
The concert ended with the YOA paying tribute to Rimsky Korsakov, another Russian composer, Mr. Korsakov’s own tribute to Spanish folk melodies.
The Youth Orchestra of the Americas is an international orchestra of the best and most talented young musicians from across the Americas.
All the countries of the Americas, including Haiti and Belize, are numbered among its players. YOA selects only the brightest and the best, sometimes picking from a field of 100 candidates to fill one spot of first violinist.
This sophistication shows in the quality of the music it produces, its reputation as a world class orchestra and the fierce loyalty and enthusiasm of its players, who get the chance to travel and perform all over the world.
The National Youth Orchestra of Belize, which had its beginnings in late October 2011, not only seeks to provide Belize with a cultural medium for self expression through music. It is also abroad initiative to attract youthful Belizeans to develop their musical talents and introduce them to a world that has no borders because music is a universal language which all can understand and enjoy.
NICH, the National Institute of Culture and History, is the architect of this initiative, and the National Youth Orchestra of Belize is its principal instrument
The National Youth Orchestra has been reaching into schools–village schools and town schools, high schools and junior colleges,
to spread the word that music offers many opportunities– for growth and creativity but for financial reward.
In the words of its Director Colville Young Jr.
“The focus of the National Youth Orchestra of Belize is not only to help our young people to develop musical skills, but to instill in them life resources that will enable them to contribute to their societies around them, training participants to become teachers and fostering leadership skills in them.”