Over the years, as the cost of producing CDs has fallen, more and more amateur music organizations find the means to release their own albums. This is good for morale and for publicity as well as being a fundraiser, but is usually purchased only by families and friends of the organization.
Unfortunately, most of these CDs are nothing but samplers, bits and pieces of larger compositions, the kind of thing that sets a music lover's teeth on edge. They rarely contain a complete major work that could better demonstrate the musical abilities--as contrasted with the technical abilities--of the ensemble. As a result such CDs mostly end up on the shelf as a memento, collecting dust together with ensemble photos and old programs.
Now the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra (GSYO) has come out with a bold change. Led by its music director Cynthia Katsarelis, associate conductor of the Greensboro Symphony, the orchestra has recently issued its first CD, featuring Mikhail Glinka's overture to the opera Russlan and Ludmilla and Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 8 in G Major. The latter, in particular, is a long work (37 minutes) that requires both musicality and stamina to pull off. It is an excellent demonstration of the talents of the aspiring musicians, honor students who represent the best and brightest, mainly from the Triad area.
Of course, one has to make certain allowances for a youth orchestra of budding musicians. Inevitably, the intonation in the high register of the first violins is wobbly, and the faster sections, especially in the Glinka overture and the last movement of the symphony, were taken in a somewhat more measured pace than is common with professional ensembles. But the overall effect is one of youthful dedication and enthusiasm that far outweighs the rough edges.
Celebrating its 30th year this season, the GYSO has been chosen to perform next spring at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, and the CD will help these young musicians make this trip. It can be purchased ($15) through Borders Books and Music or by calling the Greensboro Symphony at (336) 335-5456, ext. 224.