Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 11, 2014

Worth a look

Music

Conducting community

Just because you aren't a student at Stanford, or a professional musician, doesn't necessarily mean you aren't talented enough to perform on one of the university's world class stages.

At least that's the opinion of Jindong Cai, the music director and conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, and Anna Wittstruck, his assistant conductor. This Friday, July 11, Cai will lead the Stanford Youth Orchestra in a performance of works by Edward Elgar, Anton Bruckner, Giovanni Gabrieli, Friedrich Kuhlau, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following day, July 12, Wittstruck will lead the Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra in performing a program titled program, "?Mostly Made in America," featuring compositions by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, and Mozart.

The two performances are noteworthy due to the makeup of each group of musicians. The Stanford Youth Orchestra is, as the name notes, composed of young boys and girls in middle school and high school. However, Wittstruck notes, the players in the orchestra are extremely talented, and the series of performances that the Youth Orchestra give this summer will be about as high caliber as can be expected from such a group.

As for the Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra, while it made up entirely of amateur players, Wittstruck says she sets the bar for admittance into the orchestra incredibly high and that many in the group could potentially have been professional musicians, but they chose different paths in life.

"These are people who have been playing at a high level for their entire life and they want to keep playing, so they come here," she explains, noting with some levity that this year's Summer Symphony has many players from one of Silicon Valley's largest employers. "This year I'm joking that we should call it the stanford google orchestra."

In this way, the two programs are win-win — both for the community and the players themselves. Concert goers get a top notch experience, and the performers get to play in front of a crowd at Dinkelspiel Auditorium and the new, state of the art Bing Concert Hall.

"I like to think of it as a place where people come together through music in a very special way," she says. "This is a way of building a community."

The Stanford Youth Orchestra's chamber music performance is Friday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go to the financial aid fund for the Youth Orchestra. The Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra's performance, "Mostly Made in America," will be held Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Bing Concert Hall. Tickets are free for Stanford students, $10 for other students and $20 for the general public. For more information on these two events, go to events.stanford.edu.

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