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New youth orchestra to join LCSO in this weekend’s concerts

There’s a special treat in store for audiences at this weekend’s concerts of the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra: the newly-inaugurated Las Cruces Symphony Youth Orchestra, made up of talented musicians from local high schools, will make its debut with the LCSO. “These concerts are going to be particularly exciting because it’s our beloved professional Las Cruces Symphony with our youth – kids that are really into music,” said Jorge Martinez-Rios, who is conductor of the new youth ensemble. “I see them coming really excited to every rehearsal.”

The young players will open the concert with a short work by Astor Piazzolla, conducted by Martinez, and then sit side-by-side with the LCSO’s musicians in “Marche Slave,” by Piotr Tchaikovsky, conducted by LCSO conductor Ming Luke. In this Zoom interview with Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin, Martinez-Rios joined Luke in a conversation about the concerts and the three pieces by Tchaikovsky on the program.

“Tchaikovsky’s one of our favorite composers,” Luke said, noting that the three works on the program – Marche Slave, the 1812 Overture, and the Symphony No. 4 – are not often heard together. “Tchaikovsky’s writing is so evocative and so exciting that we wanted to put all those three together to say – this is one composer who has a fantastic range of emotions, of excitement, who just creates a very thrilling concert.”

In the interview, Luke describes the three pieces, exploring the use of folk melodies throughout Tchaikovsky’s music, the broad emotional sweep of the Symphony No. 4 and the circumstances under which it was written, and the many creative ways an orchestra can approximate the cannons in the 1812 Overture – from shotguns with blank cartridges to children popping balloons.

The concerts take place Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Atkinson Recital Hall. “It’s going to be exciting! It’s going to be fantastic that there are a whole ton of kids there playing side by side for the Marche Slave,” Luke said. “We are super-excited for the season and it’s going to be a fantastic concert.”

[Music embedded in the interview: excerpts from “Marche Slave” and the “1812 Overture,” performed by the New York Philharmonic with Leonard Bernstein conducting (Deutsche Grammophon #439-154-2) and opening of Symphony No. 4, Russian National Orchestra, Mikhail Pletnev conducting (Deutsche Grammophon 449-967-2).]

Ming Luke
Bill Hocker
Ming Luke