By Judy Peterson
Beginning promptly at 6:30 p.m. passersby can hear the music made
famous by the likes of Schubert and Rachmaninoff being performed by some of
The symphony has eight performing groups: two full orchestras, two wind ensembles, two string ensembles and a flute and percussion ensemble. Of these, the premier performing group is the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Members of the philharmonic are generally in high school, so the musicians juggle their studies with long practice hours and typical teen activities.
"It is a lot of work," said Mabel Hsu, who attends
Mabel has been playing the violin for eight years and has been with the philharmonic for three. She also plays the piano. "You can't really play the piano with an orchestra," she said. "And I like playing with a big group."
Mabel says the violin is a hobby, and she's not sure if she'll continue playing when she goes to college. However, she is considering teaching music on the side.
Clarinetist Joe Morris is already teaching first-year students. He is the winner of the symphony's Young Artist Competition and will be a featured performer at the philharmonic's upcoming Spring Classic concert.
Joe, a senior at Bellarmine College Preparatory who lives in
One thing that influenced Joe's decision was the orchestra's 2005
performing tour in
The symphony's conductor and music director, Yair Samet, says 2009
might see the philharmonic in
Samet has conducted professional orchestras from
The philharmonic practices from September through early June, with
each practice lasting three hours. But
Grace has a number of competitions under her belt, including those sponsored by the Chinese Music Teachers' Association and the Korean Times. "It gets intense during competitions. It's more fun without that pressure," she said.
Grace's musical interest began with the piano--her mother is a piano teacher. But one day she was listening to Yo-Yo Ma, the famous cellist, and was inspired to take up that instrument. Besides music, Grace's other primary interest is film. "I see this as a hobby because I plan to focus more on cinematography," she said.
Although Grace went on to say, "I don't have a lot of time for other activities," she does belong to the Korean Club and The Office club. The latter is based around the television show and every Tuesday club members watch one of the episodes.
Violinist Grady Kestler also belongs to The Office club.
He is a junior at
His favorite stop on the tour was
Grady says he just likes to hang out a lot. "I find the time. Homework doesn't seem to take too long."
Mabel says she, too, finds the time to hang around, mostly with
kids who play in the orchestra but who live in cities other than
That sense of volunteerism is evident in almost all of the symphony's activities. As a nonprofit organization, it depends on volunteers such as Nancy Naroff, who is the group's secretary. She says, "The kids are all really well-rounded, they're loyal and very dedicated. They're always willing to lend a hand and are a real pleasure to know. When I see them perform in a concert I have to pinch myself because I have to remember they're just kids. They sound just as good or even better than a professional orchestra."
The San Jose Youth Symphony was founded in 1952 with a mission of providing the valley's youth with "exceptional orchestral music education and performance experiences." Since then it has greatly broadened its reach, performing an annual three-concert subscription series and a free holiday concert. The symphony also sponsors Music Matters, which is an after-school outreach program. It was developed in 2004 because budget woes forced many local schools to cut their music programs.
The Philharmonic Orchestra's next concert is March 15 at 2:30 p.m.
at the California Theater in downtown