Kind of hard to believe it’s over. For months I’ve been hearing about the preparations, and looking forward to the July 3rd “bon voyage” concert with the Vermont Youth Orchestra. The promising program included music by Corigliano, Mendelssohn, and Gershwin along with two new world premieres written for the Orchestra. The date fell on the eve of the Orchestra’s summer tour (stopping in Québec City first, then on to several appearances in France) and it was their last home turf concert with Troy Peters, the group’s beloved conductor of fourteen years.
Governor Jim Douglas set the celebratory tone for the evening with a fitting tribute to the outgoing maestro. He cited in particular Peters’ artistic vision and dedication to challenging and adventurous programming, as well as the positive effect it’s had on developing the skills of the Orchestra and broadening the scope of audience awareness and interests. True enough. I would further that fact by adding that Troy has not only done this with his choices of repertoire for the Orchestra in his role as conductor, but also in the music he’s personally written for them, as a composer. Including the brand new work that opened the concert: written with the Quadricentennial and the upcoming French tour in mind, it is the bouyantly optimistic concert piece, Champlain’s Dream.
Apart from the considerable sentimental and historic import of last night’s concert, the group flat-out played great. I’ve never heard the low brass sound better, they were regal and sonorous in Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The shimmering violins in Corigliano’s Voyage wove a luminescent aura that delicately hovered around the whole piece, and Saint-Saëns’ potboiler, the exotic, ferocious Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila, was a nearly off-the-road juggernaut that brought the first half to a thrilling end.
How to follow that up for the second half? With the lovely Fauré Pavane; a fresh, saucy, Daugherty-reminscent Prelude and Tango (written by VYO alum Drake Mabry); and – what else? Gershwin’s An American in Paris – complete with dead-on taxi horns and all the cosmopolitan busy-ness one would want from that bustling Parisian street scene.
Undoubtedly it will be a different Orchestra in the coming season as Troy Peters moves on to his new post with the youth orchestra in San Antonio, and the VYO moves forward under new leadership (yet to be announced). But, as with any living organism, every new day brings changes. Some expected, some less so, yet every change brings with it opportunities that are only revealed when the time is right. Now concluding its 46th season, the VYO is every bit up to the challenge.
Bon voyage and very best wishes to Troy and the Orchestra as they embark on the tour together this weekend, and after, on their own undoubtedly interesting life paths.
Remember, among friends it’s never “adieu“. Just say, “a bientôt “!
Tags: An American in Paris, Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Camille Saint-Saens, Champlain, Drake Mabry, Felix Mendelssohn, France, Gabriel Faure, George Gershwin, John Corgliano, Leonard Bernstein, Quebec City, Troy Peters, Vermont Youth Orchestra, West Side Story