The Etowah Youth Orchestra and the Etowah Symphonic Wind Ensemble, directed by Mike Gagliardo, perform at 3 p.m. today at McClellan. With a concert theme of “Espiritu Y Alma” (Spirit and Soul), the selections promise to be a flavorful and varied sample of Latin American culture.
For the fourth consecutive season the orchestras will perform at the Monteith Amphitheater as part of the Music at McClellan series, sponsored by the Longleaf Arts Council. The restoration of the historic Monteith Amphitheater is one of the council’s ongoing projects. Music at McClellan features noted artists and local talent, and further promotes the arts and humanities with the Mountain Longleaf Festival, Cheaha Dance Alliance and Cheaha Creative Arts Council.
These annual concerts at McClellan not only provide Anniston audiences with a chance to hear the Gadsden-based EYO at home, but allows its 18 students from Calhoun County to perform on their homebase.
Wherever the orchestras perform, Gagliardo is making sure that EYO provides music for a new generation.
“Every year we strive to offer a complete musical experience for all of our members,” he said. “This year the focus has been on Latin American music — helping them to develop a knowledge of the genre, and to reinforce the skills that are central to the performance of this music.”
For instance, Latin American music heavily stresses rhythm so this is a key component.
“Also, some of the harmonies are different than what students are accustomed to so a good ear is important,” Gagliardo added. “Latin American music, which is very tuneful, expresses the emotions of its people with dramatic moments.”
For the student musicians, practicing the driving rhythms in these dance-like melodies makes learning exciting. And if that isn’t enough of a new musical adventure, EYO’s six-day performance tour to Puerto Rico in June will complete their Latin American experience.
“Puerto Rico and the other islands in the Caribbean each have their own distinct sound and the concert at Monteith will reflect these characteristics,” said Gagliardo.
Included in the line-up are “I Feel Pretty,” “Cool” and “America” from the Broadway production of “West Side Story,” as well as portions of the “Puerto Rican Guitar Suite,” a set of traditional Puerto Rican songs written by Jacksonville composer Wendy Snellen, which she transcribed for orchestra.
To many listeners, one of the most irresistible of rhythmic patterns is the march. The “San Lorenzo March” by C.A. Sylva, the official march of the Argentine army, will be in the line-up as well as the band version of “Tribute: Those Who Serve” by American composer James Grant.
Besides delivering a public performance at Plaza las Delicias in Ponce and taking a salsa dancing lesson, during their stay in Puerto Rico the young musicians will visit Borqueron Beach, Old San Juan and El Yungue National Forest as well as interacting with students and teachers in an elementary school before returning June 10.
Come enjoy a spring afternoon with lively music at Monteith Amphitheater at McClellan. The concert is free of charge.