USYO impact spans several counties
It was way past the advertised start time of 4 p.m. and the concert hadn’t begun yet.
But as Union Symphony executive director Kim Norwood told parents, friends and others in the audience Sunday at Wingate University’s Batte center, it was a good problem to have.
There were still people in line to buy tickets for this the final performance of the season of the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra.
Prior to beginning the performances, Norwood recognized the efforts of parent volunteers and students.
“This season about 50 percent (of participants) were from Union County. About 30 percent were from Mecklenburg,” Norwood said.
The balance of orchestra members, who are divided into various ensembles by age and skill level, come from nearby counties such as Chesterfield and Lancaster counties in South Carolina, she said.
In the lobby of the concert hall, a vibrant art show fundraiser took place with sales before and after the performance.
Norwood said the youth organized and created the art for this show with a target of raising about $800. Fundraisers earlier in the season had raised about $10,000 with another $5,000 coming from ticket sales.
Christine Javadi, whose children go to Charlotte schools, attributes much of the success of the orchestra to dedicated teacher-mentors and strong leadership.
“They care so deeply about the development of the students,” said Javadi, a professor of early childhood at Central Piedmont Community College.
Her husband, Farhad, also a professor at CPCC concurred.
“Everyone gets involved. When we (the parents) bring our children to practice, the parents meet in committees,” he said.
He also serves on the executive board of the Union Symphony.
The Javadis explained they heard about a new youth group organizing while their children were at a music camp a few years ago and decided to participate.
Hannah Javadi, 16, is in her third year with the youth orchestra where she plays viola.
“I’ve really learned how to be a part of a group. It is really different playing in an ensemble. It is challenging,” said Hannah, a student at Ardrey Kell High School.
The concert opened with a performance by the Prelude group, an ensemble of mostly middle-schoolers directed by Sabrina Howard.
Abril C. Ruiz-Lopez, 15, a student at Central Academy of Technology and Arts, was glad she had the opportunity as a violinist in the group. She is looking forward to moving up to the main orchestra soon.
She explained that playing in an ensemble such as the Prelude group “… is not something you can experience in school.”
The Vivace Strings chamber ensemble performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with Rebecca Mulligan as soloist.
The rest of the performance by the youth orchestra directed by Tom Lajoie included Richard Strauss’ tone poem most popularly known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Gustav Holst’s Mars from The Planets, and a very delightful rendition of Howard Shore’s Symphonic Suite from the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
For this concluding piece, second chair violinist Jessica Caviness, 16, a student at Hickory Grove Christian School in Charlotte, provided the lilting vocals to the accompaniment of the orchestra.
“It was a spur of the moment thing. Very exciting,” she said about being asked to do the part.
Cuthbertson High School student Ben Laramee, 16, voiced a sentiment shared by many of his peers. This was the second year for the tuba player.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to this again next year,” he said.