The D.C. Youth Orchestra Program, now in its 27th season, presented a marathon concert last night at Coolidge High School that included four different levels of playing. Overall, it was commendable.
The Preparatory Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Whitley, showed good ensemble work on Bartok's "Peasant Suite" and "Italian Folk Dance" by Isaac. The elementary groups, consisting of the Woodwind Ensemble and Orchestra, were also good. Under Ann Ament the Woodwind Ensemble played the prelude in C-sharp minor by Rachmaninoff admirably, and the Elementary Orchestra, under Linda Kay Smith, showed surprisingly accurate playing in the first movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. The Junior Orchestra, under Alphonso Pollard, displayed its versatility by offering a potpourri of pieces by Johann Strauss and others, including the crowd-pleasing "Stars and Stripes Forever" by Sousa.
The Youth Orchestra, now preparing for its impending tour of Korea, offered two selections. The first movement of the Cello Concerto by Saint-Saens featured student conductor David Mathers and soloist Natanya Brewer, who seemed to have the necessary technical requirements but unfortunately projected too small a sound. The second offering was the first movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, under Lyn McLain.
By far the best portion of the concert belonged to the Junior/Youth Percussion Ensemble. Led by Darryl Singleton, the accomplished musicians handled James Dotson's intricate "Rondo Scherzando" like veterans and gave a commanding account of the score.