It's a good idea--a youth band and chorus fed by a local conservatory; a mix of older graduates and much younger players sent touring with a repertoire that includes opera arrangements, some pop tunes, music from films, some folk songs and a smattering of odds and ends from here and there. This seems to be the premise behind this summer's I Music Piemonteis tour of the East Coast. The young musicians from Turin, Italy, get to perfect a repertoire, taste what the life of a professional artist on the road might be like and have the fun of foreign travel.
They brought their program to Georgetown University's Gaston Hall on Thursday. The 40 instrumentalists and 22 singers filled two hours with about an hour of music and an hour of announcements. The only trouble was that this group's musicmaking was about as polished as your run-of-the-mill small-time high school group, not quite in tune with each other, not quite together and, sometimes, not even quite in the same time signature. Kids that age are capable of far better (go to a D.C. Youth Orchestra concert sometime) and it is patronizing and selling them short to pretend, as the people shouting bravos seemed to, that they were doing as well as could be expected. What they need to be really good and to become ready to parade their wares is demanding and skilled leadership, and it is hard to escape the feeling that these kids aren't getting that.