Young Concert Artists launched its 21st season in Washington on Thursday with a gala concert, buffet and fund-raising auction at the Finnish Embassy. Based in New York, in 1979 the organization opened a second branch in Washington and began presenting programs here. Young musicians, chosen in auditions each year, are given performing opportunities, professional management and career guidance. YCA is widely recognized in the music business for its skill in selecting and promoting young musicians. Among those who have made their Washington recital debuts under its auspices and gone on to distinguished international careers are soprano Dawn Upshaw, cellist Carter Brey, pianists Olli Mustonen and Jean-Yves Thibaudet and violinist Ida Kavafian.

The performers on Thursday, all of whom made their Washington debuts earlier under YCA auspices, included Russian violinist Anton Barachovsky and Finnish cellist Jan-Erik Gustafsson, who played an intricate, exquisitely coordinated duet in a Handel passacaglia, and American pianist Wendy Chen, who displayed both singing tone and technical brilliance in Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, Op. 22. An RCA recording, with Chen playing this and other Chopin numbers, was among the favors given to parting guests.

The program ended with the three musicians playing as a trio (formed earlier this year by YCA's founder and director, Susan Wadsworth). Their performance of Mendelssohn's Trio No. 2 in C Minor conveyed all of the music's lyric grace and dramatic power.