About Wellington Youth Orchestra
Lindsay Perigo reviews the WYO Masterworks Concert:
Wellington Youth Orchestra “Masterworks” conducted by Mark Carter
Sunday 6th October 2019, St. Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington
Glazunov: ‘Autumn’ from The Seasons, Op 67
Bruch: Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26 (Asaki Watanabe – violin)
Saint-Saȅns: Symphony No 3 in C minor, Op 78, ‘Organ’
“‘Gobsmacked’ best sums up how I felt on first hearing the Wellington Youth Orchestra at St Andrews on the Terrace last Sunday, October 6. I tend to be one of those Grumpy Old Farts who think the young generation has gone to the dogs. I have been known to harrumph about ‘moronnials’—irredeemable zombies with empty heads buried in cellphones and earphones that pound deafening anti-music into clueless ears; acknowledging other human beings only by text messages consisting of asinine buzzwords; etc., etc. Sunday’s experience of fifty or so youngsters gathered together to perform some of the world’s most glorious music was a salutary demonstration that, whether or not the generalisation is accurate overall, there are certainly many admirable exceptions, possessed of ‘gobsmacking’ talent and an exemplary commitment to fulfilling it.
“One of the joyous things about Sunday’s programme was that it was Romantic. All of it. That is, it featured only music from the genre that represents Western Music’s apogee. Not even a nod in the direction of the dross that followed. Bruch and Saint-Saȅns were giants of Romanticism. Glazunov less so—notwithstanding his commendable attachment to alcohol, he was pallid and formalistic by comparison—but some of his output does bear an airing still, including The Seasons, from which the Orchestra excerpted Autumn. The youngsters launched into this with an intensity that was deliciously disconcerting. For the entirety of the rest of the programme, no matter the mood of the moment or the volume it required, that intensity remained undiminished. Music Director Mark Carter, a trumpeter from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted with precision and passion. Though not quite in the ‘youth’ category, he exuded the same energy as his younger charges.
“It was especially gratifying to note that at the end of the Bruch Violin Concerto, much of the cheering and stomping for soloist Asaki Watanabe came from the Orchestra itself. The players knew, as did we in the audience, that they had just been treated to (and had brilliantly backed up) a sublime rendering of a sublime masterpiece. Subtlety, power, agility, expressiveness, intelligence—she had them all. Asaki is a Japanese exchange student from Onslow College. I hope we can keep her!
“The so-called Organ Symphony by Saint-Saȅns—about whom my favourite anecdote is of him, paunchy and middle-aged, dancing ballet for a lark with a trimmer, younger Tchaikovsky on the stage of an empty theatre in Moscow, the only audience being Nicholas Rubinstein at the piano—calls for more players than this Orchestra mustered, but it didn’t matter a hoot. Volume was never an issue, balance only marginally so. The thing was a riot, albeit a highly disciplined one. Controlled, magnificent pandemonium! Sometimes the horns blared sharp. This is not a gripe—it was sinfully exciting, and I hope they keep doing it!
“This enchanted, gobsmacked audience member fervently wishes for all these youngsters every ounce of the success they so clearly deserve.
“PS—Best news of all: the programme will be repeated this Saturday, October 12, at St James Church, Lower Hutt, at 3.30 pm. I am reliably informed the organ in this church is especially fantastic!”
WYO Concerto Competition
The winner of the WYO Concerto Competition for 2019 was Asaki Watanabe, Concertmaster of Wellington Youth Sinfonietta.
Asaki’s prize was to play the Bruch violin concerto at the last WYO concert of the year. There were two performances, on 6 and 12 October.
Warm congratulations to all the second-round contestants. The standard in 2019 was very high, and we heard some great performances. The panel of judges was Mark Carter (Chair), Vesa-Matti Leppanen, and Hamish McKeich.
You can read more about Asaki on the Wellington Youth Sinfonietta Facebook page.
Mark Carter – WYO Music Director
WYO is the only full-size symphonic orchestra for young players in the Wellington region. The Music Director is Mark Carter. He says: ‘The 2020 season will be challenging and rewarding for all sections of the orchestra. I highly recommend being part of it. There is no other orchestra in Wellington like it!’
WYO gives three public concerts each year. Our 2020 programme is here: WYO-2020 Programme-ƒ
WYO rehearses on Monday evenings during term time (7-9.30 pm) in the Adam Concert Room at the New Zealand School of Music on the Victoria University campus. Our use of the ACR is made possible by the generous support of the New Zealand School of Music. We are also supported by Wellington City Council Arts and Culture Fund, and by the Nikau Foundation.
For many of our players, such as Gemma New, Ben Morrison, Blythe Press, Malavika Gopal, Greg Pharo, Alice Gott, and Nicholas Hancox, WYO has been the stepping stone to further instrumental study overseas and a successful professional career in music. Several WYO alumni are currently playing with the NZSO, including Steve Taylor, Anna van der Zee, and Malavika Gopal.
The winner of the annual concerto competition performs as a soloist with the orchestra for the third concert of the year. In 2019, this will entail two performances, not just one.
We also encourage student composers, whose work may be premièred by one of the orchestras.
As well as percussion instruments and a double bass, the orchestra owns some wind and brass instruments (an oboe, cor anglais, bass clarinet, several bassoons, and a French horn), which are available for players to use during their time with the orchestra. If you are interested in using one of our instruments, please contact the Orchestra Manager.
In addition to rehearsals, we have several sectional rehearsals with NZSO players during the course of the year, made possible through the NZSO’s Education programme.
Players pay an annual subscription of $450 + GST (discounted to $400 + GST if paid by the 31st March). Full-time university students can apply for a discount of 50%.
$200 + GST is paid as an audition deposit, and is fully refundable if the auditioner is not offered a place in the orchestra. The audition deposit must be paid before we confirm your audition time.
Every year we endeavour to source grant funding so that we can offer partial or full fees scholarships in cases of genuine financial hardship. Applications for scholarships are assessed following a successful audition. If you wish to apply for assistance, then please contact us or e-mail us at email@example.com.
About Wellington Youth Sinfonietta
Wellington Youth Sinfonietta was established in 1993 as a training orchestra for Wellington Youth Orchestra. It provides orchestral training for players from Grade VI level upwards working with a professional conductor. WYS provides a valuable foundation in orchestral playing for young musicians in the greater Wellington area, offering opportunities for solo performance for its senior players, and performance opportunities for student composers. We also have a long tradition of training young conductors.
Our Music Director for 2020 is Simon Brew, formerly Director of Music for the RNZAF.
Entry is by annual audition, but players are welcome to audition at any time during the year. No specific audition extracts are required. Instead, prepare a short piece (2-3 minutes) that you like and send us the MP3 file. (More information available under the Auditions tab.)
You can apply by completing our online Audition Application Form.
Rehearsals are held each Saturday morning during term time in the Adam Concert Room at NZ School of Music, Victoria University, from 9.30 am – 12 noon.
WYS works closely with WYO, as well as the NZSM Young Musicians Programme. The first concert of the year is usually a joint one with Kapiti Youth Orchestra.
As well as percussion instruments and a double bass, the orchestra owns some wind and brass instruments (an oboe, cor anglais, bass clarinet, several bassoons, and a French horn), which are available for players to use during their time with the orchestra. If you are interested, please contact the relevant Orchestra Manager.
Sectional tutorials by NZSO players are given during the year as part of concert preparation. WYS gives several short concerts a year, and also plays at Artsplash in the Michael Fowler Centre.
We are proud of our alumni. Senior players usually move on from WYS to Wellington Youth Orchestra and to university study in music performance. Many of our players have gone on to further instrumental study overseas and a successful professional career in music. One of our foundation players, Steve Taylor (double bass) plays in the NZSO. Other former players, such as Blythe Press, Greg Pharo, Alice Gott, and Alexis French have studied (or are studying) in Europe, North America, and Australia. Several of our student composers (including Natalie Hunt, Karlo Margetic, Isaac Stone, and Tabea Squire) have won national awards for composition. Gemma New is making a name for herself in North America as conductor of the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra in Canada, whilst Nicholas Hancox is now a professional conductor in Germany.
Each year WYS joins with Kapiti Youth Orchestra for a weekend of rehearsals, tutorials, and fun, culminating in a joint concert. See the Gallery section for images from previous Joint Orchestra Weekends.
Players pay an annual subscription ($450 + GST per annum, discounted to $400 + GST if the balance is paid by 31st March). $200 + GST of this is paid as an audition deposit, and the balance is due at the start of Term 1.
Every year we endeavour to source grant funding so that we can offer partial or full fees scholarships in cases of genuine financial hardship. Applications for scholarships are assessed following a successful audition. If you wish to apply for financial assistance, then please contact us or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.