Despite heavy monsoon rains and flash floods, the 100-member Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) capped its two-night engagement at the Cultural Center of the Philippines recently, with Manila audiences giving it a shouting ovation.
The first night under conductor James Judd had brilliant Taiwanese violinist Yu-Chien Tseng as soloist in the Barber “Op. 14” concerto. “I knew he was good the moment I heard the first few bars of the first movement,” Manila Symphony Orchestra (MSO) concertmaster Gina Medina Perez told the Inquirer.
On the second night, the AYO under Richard Pontzious had a Russian pianist Anna Tysbuleva as soloist in the Rachmaninoff warhorse, “Variations on A Theme” by Paganini. Tysbuleva showed her prize-winning form and technical expertise.
On the second night, what one thought was the best rendered piece was Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” with selections from Suites 1 and 2.
Instantly, there was hint of drama in the Montague and Capulet opening and the orchestra’s young musicians drew an unforgettable portrait of the young Juliet, the Balcony Scene, and the poignant finale, Romeo at Juliet’s Grave.
The Friday night concert opened with a good reading of Wagner’s “Overture to Die Meistersinger” and closed with Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”
Since its inaugural performances in 1990, the AYO has distinct Manila connections. One of its founders, the late iconic violinist Yehudi Menuhin, was soloist of the MSO in 1948. Cecile Licad was its soloist at one time.
In this year’s tour, AYO has four Filipino young musicians: Leigh Cellano (violin), Joven Edward Aquisap (viola), Marloe Kyril H. Maruyama (double bass), and Alexis Constantino (percussion). –CONTRIBUTED