THE EL CAMINO Youth Symphony is a California-based ensemble comprising several orchestras and musical bodies. Its stated mission is based on two principles: musical education for young people, and virtuosity offering great experiences to a wide range of audiences.
But the symphony’s Bratislava concert beginning July had one more goal: to help the Nadácia pre výskum rakoviny / Cancer Research Foundation raise money for a diagnostic device. The outstanding proficiency of the playing was, needless to say, preserved. Organised by Ján Juráš, and supported by the US Embassy to Slovakia and the Bratislava Culture and Information Centre, the event helped raise money from ticket sales, from a collection during the interval, and from the sale of souvenirs. Margita Klobušická of the foundation expressed her thanks for the contribution and US Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick noted that the concert also marked the 20th anniversary of Slovak-US diplomatic ties and cultural exchanges.
The El Camino Youth Symphony’s musicians are young, with some of them even looking like elementary school students, but their skills and talent commanded complete respect. At their concert on July 3, in the Slovak Radio main concert hall, they played – led by their musical head and conductor Camilla Kolchinsky – Rossini’s Overture to the opera La Gazza Ladra, Concert for Violin and Orchestra by Jean Sibelius, and Symphony No. 1 in F minor by Dmitri Shostakovich. The orchestra, and outstanding soloist Yujin Ariza on violin, garnered such vivid applause that they gave two encores: the Dance of Montagues and Capulets (aka the Dance of the Knights) from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet and Mambo by Leonard Bernstein, complete with synchronised choreography involving standing and shouting.
The event – together with an earlier concert, on July 1, by the San Jose Youth Symphony performing the works of Don Gillis, Franz Liszt, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Tchaikovsky – took place as part of the Days of California, part of a year-round series of performances aimed at celebrating the 20th anniversary of official ties between the USA and the Slovak Republic. Proceeds from both of the concerts went to the Cancer Research Foundation.