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Glendale Youth Orchestra keeps things fresh

March 07, 2014|By Joyce Rudolph
  • Members of the Glendale Youth Orchestra rehearse in preparation for Sunday's concert at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.
Members of the Glendale Youth Orchestra rehearse in preparation… (Photo by Joyce Rudolph )

Conductor Brad Keimach aims to keep the programs fresh for the audience and musicians of the Glendale Youth Orchestra.

Last season, one concert was devoted to selections from Handel's "Messiah." Instead of using vocal soloists for the arias, Keimach said he used instrumental soloists, but a chorus for the choruses. The year before that, the orchestra members did a similar thing for the Bach B Minor Mass.

Last year, the orchestra, which consists of sixth through 12th graders from all over Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, collaborated on a program with the group Brasil Brazil.

"They wrote orchestrations for Brazilian jazz and we did premieres of about seven or eight of their songs," Keimach said.

This is the youth orchestra's 25th anniversary season, and for this Sunday's concert, Keimach has another surprise planned. He will conduct the orchestra as it performs the Carl Davis score for Charlie Chaplin's "The Rink" while the silent film is played on the screen at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

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"These are all new experiences to celebrate the kids," he said. "My feeling was the 25th year is a great milestone, but the other years should not be without a highlight or something special or unusual, expansive. We need something special every year because then, what on our 26th year, splat? That would never do. So we keep exploring, trying something new and taking risks."

Carl Davis, who was born in New York and now lives in London, wrote the score specifically for this film 10 years ago. He has been writing film scores for years, so he studies each film he composes music for and writes music for each scene, and especially in this case — almost each moment — because there are events in this film that have to coincide exactly.

"The music for the Chaplin film is not only dramatically illustrative but it's a fun score. It's just jolly to listen to and for the kids to play," Keimach said. "There's a tango, there's a minuet, Spanish music — something different in every movement just about. The kids are having a ball doing it and I think the audience will have a great time with it as well."

Keimach had some questions about the score early on, and the music publisher arranged for him to call Davis in London. During the conversation, Keimach learned that Davis had performed some of his music at the Alex Theatre several years ago.

"So he knows the venue and he wished us well," he said.

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