Yesterday I attended the California Youth Symphony concert, led by Leo Eylar. I have two students in the group, one of whom is a senior, so I wanted to be sure and hear him before he heads off to college next year, and I’m not sure I’ll have another opportunity due to my own performance schedule.

The program consisted of Stravinksy’s Circus Polka, Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1, La Valse by Ravel and, finally (and my fave of the day), Richard Strauss’s Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

Ah, Paganini. Sigh. May I rename him PagaNoNo? It’s not that the performance was bad. I just don’t care for Paganini. He and Pasculli are, for me, just show off fluff without substance. Call me grumpy when it comes to those two. Still, the soloist did fine work, and I think everyone else in the audience was enamored by the work. I guess it’s just my problem!

I thought the orchestra was especially good with the Ravel and Strauss.

There are things that disturb me about audiences, and I try to be patient, but once again I was reminded about how rude some can be. I had to be the instigator of the applause when the concertmaster came out. I would have thought parents of the musicians would know that they applaud then, but I guess not. And I know, I know, I shouldn’t care about applause between movements. But it really was awkward, because about half of the audience applauds so it sounds very half-hearted. After the first movement of the Paganini some kids ran up with flowers for the soloist, thinking it was over. That was awkward too. Ah well.

But the worst and most aggravating thing? The number of people who left after the soloist was finished on the first half. C’mon, folks, do you know how disheartening it is to performers when they look out and see that so many have deserted them. It’s one thing for us adults — we do get sort of used to this behavior — but I think we owe it to these young performers to stick around. Besides, you missed the best half!

Okay, grump and gripe over ‘n out. Good job, CYS!


  1. I’m glad you liked the concert! 🙂

    I have to agree with your opinion about Paginini. His music is definitely insubstantial.

  2. I’m guessing it’s fun to play or something … why else would one choose that? (Nice to hear from you, Krishnan!)

  3. On behalf of CYS, thank you for attending Sunday’s concert and for the wonderful video of Suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

  4. Dear Susie,

    It was a delight to attend! The students performed wonderfully, and I’m always so happy when I can manage to get to a concert to hear my private students play. (In this concert I heard my student Timothy Zhang. I was hoping to hear another student as well, but he had the flu.)