Review: PYP’s Concert-at-Christmas

Review by Melissa Cook – local mom and PDX Kids Calendar reviewer

The Portland Youth Philharmonic Concert at Christmas was held at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall December 26th and my daughter and I were happy to attend. The concert proved to be quite a tradition for many Portland area families as the seats were filled all around us.

The Concert at Christmas is a little different than other Portland Youth Philharmonic performances because not only do all of the PYP students have the opportunity to perform, but PYP Alumni are invited back to play as well.
The concert opened with the Alumni performing Overture to Nabucco with former PYP Conductor (1995-2002) Huw Edwards returning as a guest conductor.

After their amazing performance the Young String Ensemble took stage with Conductor Carol Sindell and wowed the audience with three pieces, ending in the delightfully familiar March from The Nutcracker by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (arranged by D. Fraser). My daughter, who is 10 and just beginning her journey playing the trumpet, was awed at the perfection of the pieces that were played by such young performers.

After the String Ensemble was finished, the Wind Ensemble performed two pieces with Conductor Larry Johnson and did amazingly well.

Then after a brief intermission we returned to our seats with Larry Johnson conducting the Conservatory Orchestra and they performed Symphony No. 4 in D Minor by Antonin Dvorak.

The two-hour long concert concluded with the main Philharmonic Orchestra and Musical Director David Hattner performing 5 pieces for the audience – two of which were PYP premieres. One of the premiers, Overture to II Segreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari is part of a very lively piece from a 1909 opera about the controversy of Susanna – a woman who smoked.

Next the PYP performed the Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Pucchini which Hattner boasted as Puccini’s “1st Real Success”, and stated the piece was “Sad, yet fantastically beautiful”.

He was right.

One other amazing piece was entitled Plink Plank Plunk by Leroy Anderson, and it was played just like the title sounds, with everyone playing their instruments with their fingers, and sliding their hands against their instruments to create a much different style of music.

My daughter was tired by the end of the evening which lasted until after 9:30 pm (a long time for her to sit still and be quiet), but she still loves going out for a big girl mother/daughter date. I find the PYP concerts a wonderful learning experience as I personally have no musical background and very little knowledge. Musical Director David Hattner always introduces his pieces for us and shares little stories about their history which makes the evening not only informative, but inspiring as you watch these youth develop into magnificent performers.

Melissa and her daughter were given tickets to attend this performance on behalf of PDX Kids Calendar for review. She was in no way compensated for her opinions.

Melissa Cook

Melissa Cook

Melissa grew up in Southern Oregon and moved to the Willamette Valley in 2000. She lives in Dayton with her husband and three children. When Melissa's not taking care of her family she works on call as a nurse and shares creations, inspirations, and a passion for living local on her personal blog.
Melissa Cook

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