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Youth Orchestra takes big step forward.

Byline: Richard Duckett

The Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra will be taking a significant step in its development when it combines with an adult orchestra for the first time this weekend.

The orchestra and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra will present a program featuring Brahms' Piano Concerto in D minor, and a relatively recent work, Symphony No. 1, "Of Rage and Remembrance," by John Corigliano. The orchestras will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Greater Boston Vineyard Church, Cambridge, and 4 p.m. Sunday in Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St., Worcester. Aimee Tsuchiya will be guest pianist.

The link between the two orchestras is Cynthia Woods, who is music director/artistic director of both.

Wood noted that several years ago the Worcester Youth Orchestra collaborated with some of the local colleges in the Worcester area, "but never a fully adult semiprofessional orchestra. This is a new big thing for them."

She figured that her young charges (the orchestra consists of 32 musicians) were up for the challenge. "I felt they were ready, that they had a lot to learn from this. It was the right thing at the right time for them. So I thought, `Let's do it; why not?'"

Woods had been artistic director of the Worcester Youth Orchestras for more than six years. Still technically under the auspices of the Performing Arts School of Worcester, the orchestras consist of two ensembles - the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra, performing this weekend, and the smaller Worcester Youth Concert Orchestra for younger musicians.

The students have seen a lot happen over the past few years, including the break up of PASOW - which closed the doors at its school but still retained its orchestras. Meanwhile, the musicianship has accumulated strength and recognition. Last June the Worcester Youth Orchestras performed at the Massachusetts Statehouse in Boston.

This weekend's program would be a demanding one for any orchestra. "It's very difficult music. They're both huge pieces," Woods said. On the other hand, "I think we're gonna have a great concert." Rehearsals with the two orchestras combining have gone extremely well, she said.

Woods is also the link between the orchestras performing Corigliano's symphony "Of Rage and Remembrance." She once took a master class workshop at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, Conn., led by Corigliano and devoted to studying his composition.

"I was really struck by the intensity of the piece and his emotional connection to the music," she said.

Written in 1989, its impetus is the AIDS crisis. "He was inspired by the AIDS quilt. He had lost many friends (to AIDS). Every movement is dedicated to a different friend he had lost."

In conjunction with the theme of the piece, 50 tickets to Sunday's concert have been given to the AIDS Project Worcester agency. A portion of the Saturday Cambridge concert ticket sales will benefit Cambridge Cares About AIDS.

So the concerts will also have an educational component for member of the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra. "I chose this piece ("Of Rage and Remembrance") for the kids. They hear about it (AIDS) but it's difficult to understand it on a personal level. How did this affect one person? How did this affect our arts?" Woods said.

"I wanted to show the students that through most of history, music and the arts have been relevant to issues going on in society at the time. The kids have been very mature about it. They've done a great job."

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Worcester Youth Orchestra with Cambridge Symphony Orchestra

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St., Worcester

How Much: $15; $12 students and seniors. For tickets, call (508) 752-0888

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ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: Cynthia Wood conducts the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra in a rehearsal at All Saints Church in Worcester.

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON
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Title Annotation:LIVING
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 13, 2008
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