A project sponsored by Washington's Urban Philharmonic came to fruition last night as the Young Virtuosi gave their first of 12 summer concerts, at the Evans-Tibbs Collection on Vermont Avenue NW. These eight instrumentalists ranging in age from 16 to 21 are studying with local professional composers and performers of classical and jazz.
Partially funded by Mayor Marion Barry's Summer Youth Employment Training Program, the musicians participate in master classes and composition workshops, then perform one another's music. And so was born an untitled new work for chamber ensemble by Virtuosi member John Benskin. His three-movement piece, conducted by program director Darrold Hunt, had a fine, translucent nature to it bordering the outskirts of tonality. It was played twice.
One of the goals of program administrator Sara Green is to provide the students with a training environment for a career in music. If Leon Alexander is typical of the quality found in the Young Virtuosi, the program is off to a good start. Alexander's percussion solo on "Inspiration Diabolique" by Rick Tagawa brought life to the piece, indeed, the entire concert. His mallets and stick work glistened.
Director Hunt set an unceremonious tone for the evening with introductory comments and insights. "This is the most experimental of the city's cultural programs," he said. Yet the opening piece didn't quite fit this concept. Classical-era composer Giovanni Cambini's Trio in F for two flutes and viola seemed oddly placed, notwithstanding the commendable reading it got in the steamy heat.