PSYO Season Finale cover

PSYO Season Finale


Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra wraps up its 2018-19 season with one of the 20th century’s most revolutionary and influential works, Igor Stravinsky’s epic ballet, "The Rite of Spring." The concert will also feature performances by the first place winners of PSYO’s annual concerto auditions, a thrilling and much anticipated event!
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Seating is general admission.
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Pacific Symphony
Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra
Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO), founded in 1993, is a prestigious pre- professional orchestra recognized as one of the most outstanding youth orchestras in the country. This orchestra was named Youth Orchestra of the Year in 2011 by the national arts organization Classics Alive and under the baton of Pacific Symphony Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia, the musicians of PSYO master pillars of professional orchestral repertoire each season.
PSYO cultivates the talents of symphony orchestral musicians in grades nine through 12 through a variety of world- class artistic experiences and performance opportunities, including a side-by-side performance with their adult counterparts of Pacific Symphony. PSYO has taken two successful international tours, to China in the summer of 2016 and Bulgaria in the summer of 2011. Both tours offered these young musicians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for standing-room-only audiences, visit historical sites, and serve as ambassadors of music.

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PSYO Season Finale


Concertino For Trombone And Orchestra

Allegro maestoso

Andante, marcia funèbre


William Gerber


Concerto For Cello And Orchestra In B Minor, 1st Movement


Sedong Hwang





L’Adoration de la Terre

(Adoration of the Earth)

Le Sacrifice (The Sacrifice)

Ferdinand David:

Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra

Born in Hamburg, violinist, teacher, and composer Ferdinand David (1810-1873) was one of Felix Mendelssohn’s closest friends. He studied music for two years in Kassel, from 1823 until 1825. He got to know Mendelssohn in 1826 while playing as violinist at the Königstadt Theatre in Berlin; the two teenage prodigies (David was 16, Mendelssohn 17) frequently played together in chamber music concerts. After spending three years in Berlin, David led a string quartet in what is now Tartu, Estonia.

As a composer, David’s work was highly versatile. Although he focused on the violin, composing five violin concerti and other pieces for solo violin and orchestra, he also wrote much other music. David wrote two chamber music compositions, an opera, several choral works, and pieces for the orchestra with a variety of other solo instruments.

Composed in 1837, David’s Trombone Concertino, was supposed to have been Mendelssohn’s Trombone Concerto. Karl Traugott Queisser, the renowned trombonist with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, had approached Mendelssohn with a request to write a trombone concerto. After initially agreeing to his request, Mendelssohn found himself running short on time and suggested that Queisser ask David instead.

David happily obliged, composing a piece that turned out to be one of the earliest and most important concertos for the instrument. At the première in 1837, Mendelssohn conducted the orchestra and Queisser played the solo part. David’s concertino is one of the first pieces to use the trombone as a solo instrument. It is also one of the earliest to include music specifically shaped and crafted for the technical and sonorous possibilities of the instrument.

In earlier music, rather than being treated as important instruments in their own right, trombones had been used to amplify the volume of the orchestra or for religious, funeral, macabre or apocalyptic associations (the best example being Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique).

---Video 14:57. Joe Alessi plays Ferdinand David's Concertino for Trombone

Demonstrating the unmistakable influence of Mendelssohn, the work features a wide variety of expressive moods: playful, lyrical, virtuosic, dramatic and operatic.


Antonín Dvořák:

Concerto for Cello and Orchestra

Born in a small village in Bohemia, Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) remains one of the giants of 19th- century Czech music. Throughout his compositional career, Dvořák remained committed to both the Austro-German musical tradition and the folk music of his native Bohemia. He made lasting contributions to both, and also secured a special place in the history of American music.

While living in America, Dvořák advocated for the creation of an American national style of music, using what he considered to be authentic national ingredients. Modeled on Anglo-American folk music, African-American spirituals and Native American traditional music (more accurately, what Euro-American thought was Native American music, which often bore little resemblance to the real thing), Dvořák’s American national style called for flattened leading tones, plagal cadences, drone accompaniments, rhythmic ostinato, and syncopations.

These musical features can be seen in the “New World” Symphony and the “American” String Quartet. During his tenure at the National Conservatory, Dvořák spent a summer in the small Czech-speaking community of Spillville, Iowa; he paid a visit to the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls on his return to New York.

Unfortunately for Dvořák, he soon experienced difficulty with his new academic position. As a result of the Panic of 1893, the school’s major donor became bankrupt and millionaire philanthropist Francis Thurber could no longer afford to pay Dvořák his promised salary. Beset by personal and professional difficulties, by 1895 the composer began experiencing homesickness for his native Bohemia; he returned to his homeland soon after.

Dvořák’s nostalgia for his Czech homeland is particularly pronounced in theCello Concerto, which is entirely devoid of “Americanisms.”

Written in 1895, the piece was inspired by the cello concerto of Victor Herbert, his fellow professor at the conservatory. Dvořák had not previously considered the cello as a worthy solo instrument; Herbert’s 1894 E Minor cello concerto convinced him to reconsider.

The piece was written for cellist Hanuš Wihan (1855-1920). The premiere took place in London in 1895, although Wihan was replaced at the last minute with Leo Stern. Wihan would perform the piece with Dvořák conducting several years later.

Traditional in its outlook, it begins with an orchestral introduction, a feature that had largely disappeared from concertos by the 1840s and was incredibly old-fashioned by the 1890s.

Infused with aching melancholy, the work speaks of a longing to return to the familiar comforts of home, family, and friends. At the same time he was writing the piece, the composer’s sister-in-law Josefina became gravely ill (Dvořák had been in love with Josefina before agreeing to marry her sister Anna).

In deference to her, he chose to include a quotation of his melancholy 1882 song “Lasst mich allein” (“Leave Me Alone”), in the second movement of the concerto. When Josefina died, Dvořák added this melody, which had been her favorite of Dvořák’s works, to the third movement as well.

---Video 46:29

A recently re-discovered recording of a concert held in tribute to the people of Czechoslovakia days after the Soviet Union invaded. Filmed live at the Royal Albert Hall in September 1968.


Igor Stravinsky:

Le Sacre du Printemps

It was perhaps inevitable that Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) would become a musician. Descended from Russian and Polish nobility, Stravinsky’s father was one of the leading opera singers in St. Petersburg. The young Stravinsky grew up in an artistic milieu, surrounded by the greats of Russian opera; renowned singers, teachers, and many of the leading composers of the late 19th-century were fixtures in the Stravinsky home. Stravinsky often attended the opera to watch his father perform.

Immersed in St. Petersburg culture, the young Stravinsky attended operas nearly constantly, although his teacher and musical circle detested ballet (ironic for a composer who would ultimately get his first big break from a ballet and who even today would be primarily known for the genre). Ultimately, St. Petersburg University was closed in 1905 following massive protests in the wake of the Russo- Japanese War. As a result, Stravinsky was unable to graduate with his law degree.

In fact, it is unclear how he might have fared even had the university not been closed; clearly he was far more interested in music than law.

In any event, he decided to devote himself to music. In the following years, Stravinsky saw his reputation as a composer begin to grow in St. Petersburg.

In 1910 Stravinsky was invited to compose the ballet Firebird in 1910 for les Ballets Russes, a Russian ballet company founded in the previous year by Sergei Diaghilev which was dedicated to introducing Russian ballet to France. Diaghilev had become familiar with Stravinsky’s music and invited him to orchestrate music by Chopin for a ballet in 1909; why Diaghilev chose Stravinsky over other composers, including his resident composer Nikolai Tcherepnin, is not known.

Diaghilev’s productions, particularly the Chopin adaptation, were criticized in Paris as not being sufficiently Russian, so for his next production he chose to set a version of Firebird, the most stereotypically Russian story he could come up with. The Firebird thrust Stravinsky from a relatively obscure young composer in St. Petersburg into international fame.

Following on the heels of Tchaikovsky, the first major composer to write music for a ballet, Stravinsky would be the first to become a major composer specifically through a ballet. As a result of its resounding success, Stravinsky became an instant celebrity, befriending musical and artistic figures like Debussy, Ravel, and Marcel Proust. He was invited to write for les Ballets Russes twice more in the following two years.

Stravinsky began composing The Rite of Spring, his third ballet for les Ballets Russes, in the summer of 1911, following the success of Petrushka. He started work on the score in the town of Ustilug, at one of his mother’s family’s estates in what is now extreme northwestern Ukraine. Stravinsky had spent many summers there in his youth, and it was his favorite of his family’s properties.

He continued writing the work during the winter of 1911-1912 in Clarens, Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva. Diaghilev initially planned to program the piece during his 1912 season, but postponed it until a year later because he wanted to have the famed modern dancer Vaslav Nijinsky set the choreography.

Stravinsky finished composing it in November 1912, but added an introduction to the second part in March 1913, a few months before the premiere. The sets and costume designs were by Nicholas Roerich.

Few events in the history of music have proved more contentious or notorious than the premiere of The Rite of Spring on May 29, 1913. Conducted by Pierre Monteux, the performance took place in Paris at the brand-new Théâtre des Champs-Elysées that had only opened a month before. Although the open dress rehearsal the previous night had gone off without incident—well-attended by an open-minded, artistically-inclined audience that was fairly typical of les Ballets Russes’ usual crowd—the premiere sparked a riot.

Ostensibly incensed by the music’s incomprehensibility and the jarring choreography, audience members hissed, laughed, shouted, and rioted.

Multiple people were ejected from the theatre by police, and the music was almost entirely inaudible. Perhaps spurred on by unseasonably hot weather, the events of that night were more likely due to hooliganism than to anything in the production. The ballet was performed multiple times in subsequent weeks, all without incident. In fact, after a performance in April 1914, Stravinsky was rushed by a crowd of admirers.

Although the riot on opening night was probably not directly sparked by the music, Stravinsky’s music for the ballet is extraordinarily dissonant and brash, even for a time when brash dissonance was common and expected in modern music. The piece makes extensive use of the major seventh and minor ninth— two exceedingly dissonant intervals.

Stravinsky uses modality and bitonality, often employing two simultaneous melodies in the Dorian mode separated by either of these intervals. This is accompanied by constantly shifting, irregular meters, with unpredictable accents that often do not align across different sections of the orchestra.

Stravinsky draws heavily on Russian folk melodies, but, in the words of Stravinsky scholar Alex Ross, “pulverizes them into motivic bits, piles them up in layers, and reassembles them in cubistic collages and montages.” The result is a driving, throbbing rhythmic propulsion filled with astringent dissonance. The work is frequently considered the single most important piece of 20th-century avant-garde music, and is Stravinsky’s most famous composition, although its level of dissonance and evocations of violence are unusual for his music.

Like many works of early 20th-century modern art, The Rite of Spring was influenced by an artistic movement known as primitivism.

During this time, many artists, writers, and musicians who were developing the latest, most advanced techniques were equally fascinated by primitive cultures, which they saw as more authentic than modern society. At the same time as the idealization of modern technology brought on by the machine age, there was a paradoxical fascination for ancient societies and contemporary tribal cultures.

Although the piece shares little if anything with French impressionist music, both Debussy and Ravel were fascinated by it. Stravinsky showed the manuscript to Ravel, who highly appreciated it, and he played a four-handed piano version with Debussy.

This four-handed arrangement was published in 1913; Stravinsky revised the work in 1920 and published it in full score in 1921. Its American premiere took place in 1922 by the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski. Stravinsky conducted it himself for the first time in 1926, and it was first recorded in 1928. The piece’s inclusion in the 1940 Disney animated film Fantasia helped bring it to even wider fame.

Joshua Grayson, Ph.D., is an historical musicologist and graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music, and the program note annotator for Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles.

---Video 36:39


Roger Kalia

PSYO music director

Hailed as a conductor who leads with “passionate intensity” and recognized as “one to watch,” Roger Kalia is one of America’s most exciting young conductors. A three- time recipient (2018, 2017, 2013) of The Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Kalia was recently named music director of Orchestra Santa Monica. He is also entering his fourth season as assistant conductor of Pacific Symphony and music director of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO). Kalia also serves as co-founder and music director of the Lake George Music Festival in upstate New York, which was recently featured in the League of American Orchestra’s Symphony Magazine as one of the premier summer classical music festivals in the country.

During the 2017-18 season, he made his European subscription debut with the Szczecin Philharmonic in Poland to rave reviews, led the Camarada Chamber Orchestra of San Diego, returned to conduct the Bakersfield Symphony on their annual Gala concert, and collaborated with the Orange County Music and Dance School in a benefit concert titled “From Classical to Rock” featuring rock stars Johnny Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls) and Nancy Wilson (Heart). Kalia has served as cover conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony. Kalia started his career as music director of the YMF Debut Orchestra of Los Angeles following in the footsteps of such conductors as Michael Tilson Thomas and André Previn.

Passionate about teaching the next generation of musicians, Kalia maintains a regular teaching relationship with The Colburn School and California State University, Fullerton, and he recently conducted the Missouri All-State Symphony Orchestra. Kalia has also created family and educational concerts for orchestras across the country in a variety of concert formats including the use of multimedia, semi- staged operas, and collaborations with Cirque de la Symphonie and TV personality Randy Jackson.

A native of New York, Kalia holds degrees from Indiana University, the University of Houston and SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

William Gerber


Will Gerber has been with Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles for four years. For the first two years, Gerber has performed with Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Gregory X.

Whitmore, and has since been the Principal Trombonist in PSYO under conductor Roger Kalia. With the Wind Ensemble, Gerber traveled to Vienna and took first place in the Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival, performing in both the Musikverein and the Konzerthaus, among others. After being introduced to piano at age 3, he started playing trombone at age 10, and has studied with Professor Michael Briones for seven years.

Gerber is a senior at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, and has been a part of the music program for all four years. He has been section leader in Marching Band, Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble since his sophomore year. He has played in All State and All Southern Honor Bands, and has also been the Principal Trombonist in the IUSD Honors Orchestra during elementary, middle and high schools, and in the “Classical to Rock” orchestra. Additionally, Gerber has been recognized as a semi-finalist for Orange County Instrumental Music Artist of the Year.

Sedong Hwang


Currently a junior attending University High, Hwang’s passionate pursuit of perfecting his performance has earned him the title of winner of ASTA LA finals, winner of SYMF young cellist, winner of VOCE competition, winner of the JCM concerto competition, and silver medalist for both the Enkor international competition and PCM competition. He is currently working under the guidance of Professor Joon Sung Jun and has previously worked with Sangwon Cho, Stan Sharp and Robert deMaine. He has diligently completed three years of Montecito International Music Festival, four years of the Pacific Symphony Youth Ensemble, and six years of Junior Chamber Music where he toured and performed in various cities such as Boston, New York, Vienna, Prague and Budapest. His Junior Chamber Music group has also been named debut artist for three consecutive seasons.

He had the privilege of participating in master classes with Lynn Harrel, Robert deMaine and Daniel Rothmuller, and also performed with John Waltz, Dennis Karmazyn and Susan Botteger. Hwang also served as co-principal of PSYO for two years and participated in the all-state high school orchestra. Outside of music, he leads California’s second largest Latin organization as co-president and also leads Spaceset as vice president, a club dedicated to building hypothetical space settlements annually in an international competition at the Kennedy Space Center. In his free time, Hwang likes to hone down his Super Smash Bros. skills, contemplates about life in Mason Park, volunteers to perform at a local senior center, meditates, plays basketball and eats up books related to psychology.