It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The symphony is surprisingly good for a gang of teenagers, which is a hopeful sign for the future. The Smetana was lovely lovely. Garry Eister's piece was about the Japanese internment camps in WWII, and featured mezzo soloist Jackie Kreitzer, another local with world-wide ties to the musical world, and Andy Harp, local broadcaster and musician, as narrator. The format of the piece made it very audience-friendly, "accessible" as they say.
For me, though, the Beethoven was clearly the highlight. All of the works were polished and performed beautifully, but this one featured Mari Kodama, and I love to watch her play. I have two CDs of hers that I have almost worn out. She is particularly known for her interpretations of Beethoven, although I was mesmerized by her playing of the Prokofiev piano concerto no. 3 a couple of years ago. She is such an excellent musician. Her technical skill is awe-inspiring, and she uses it to get the most musically from a piece. The horns - both of them - in the symphony were having a bad night, particularly in this piece, but that didn't mar my appreciation of the concerto. A tough challenge for the symphony.
What a treat! A top world conductor and pianist performing with a local youth symphony. The premiere of a new piece of music. There is no comparison between listening to a CD and actually watching a performance like this.