High school musicians perform with SMC orchestra

On Sunday some of Santa Monica's brightest young musical talents inspired loud applause and cheers at The Broad Stage during a special concert presentation headed by the Santa Monica College Symphony Orchestra. The concert was presented in association with the Westside Music Association and the Music Teachers Association Santa Monica Bay Branch and featured students from Crossroads and Santa Monica High School.

Dr. James Martin, music department chair at SMC, opened the program by conducting the SMC symphony through composer Anatole Liadow's arrangements for eight Russian folk songs. The grand, enrapturing sound set the tone for the afternoon's proceedings.

It was then time for the program's featured soloists to take the stage. First there was ninth grader Isaac Horwitz-Hirsch who played a magnificent trumpet rendition of Alexander Goedicke's "Concert Etude" with the orchestra being conducted by SMC assistant conductor Fang-Ning Lim. The young virtuoso provoked cheers and applause.

Mollie Bernstein followed it up with a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn's "Concerto For Oboe And Orchestra in C Major" with Martin conducting the orchestra. Bernstein played a wonderfully rich version of Haydn's piece.

One of the stand out soloists was Sebastian Carrasco, son of SMC film production department head, Professor Salvador Carrasco.

The younger Carrasco led the orchestra in Mozart's "Violin Concerto #5 in A Major" with a special energy and vigor inspiring two ovations after playing the final note. After a magisterial performance by the orchestra of Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov's "Caucasian Sketches" conducted by Lim, violoncellist Jeffrey Ho performed the immense and grand "Variations on A Rococo Theme" by Tchaikovsky.

The entire concert was a memorable musical gesture that displayed onstage how young talents grow and develop into accomplished musicians.

Martin expressed his pride at the results of the program after the final notes were met with great ovations from the audience.

"You know most [high school] kids they are doing hard rock or bubble gum pop, here these people are playing Hadyn or Tchaikovsky and playing very well," Martin said.

Despite performing a piece composed over a century ago, Carrasco was able to pull off a bit of updated take on it.

"I wanted [the audience] to really enjoy it and hear a different interpretation of the piece. It's a Mozart so it's played a lot so I wanted them to hear a new take on it and enjoy," Carrasco said after the performance.

Internationally renowned German violinist and professor emeritus at University of Southern California, Alice Schoenfeld, attended the concert as Carrasco's private violin instructor and praised the entire orchestra and soloists.

"I was very impressed with the quality of the orchestra and the soloists. The young lady was very good, the cellist [Jeffery Ho] was very good for his age and the oboist [Mollie Bernstein] had beautiful tone and beautiful artistic expression," Schoenfeld said.

"Carrasco played to great perfection, not only were the notes right, the rhythm was right but he brought much inner feeling, expression and interpretation," she said.

Though Martin only had three weeks to rehearse with the soloists, he found that they came prepared for the show.

"There was no searching or looking for notes, they already knew what they wanted. I told them do it the way you want to do it and we will follow you. They did it, we followed them," Martin said.

Schoenfeld had one parting thought on the concert.

"This was a concert for everybody to enjoy. It's wonderful that you have, here in Santa Monica, a nice hall, a nice concert and a nice audience to make it perfect," said Schoenfeld.