Jonathan Stuchbery still feels the need to just rock out on his electric guitar, but it is his true passion that is putting him in the spotlight for this weekend with the Youth Symphony of the Okanagan.
“It’s fun to do because you can play really loud, where my classical guitar doesn’t have those deep decibels,” said Stuchbery, a Grade 12 student in Penticton, and the featured soloist with the YSO’s opening concert on Saturday at the Cleland Theatre. “Electric guitar and rock ‘n’ roll music is where I got my start, but then I started looking into classical guitar and the more I learned about it, the more I fell in love with it. After a month of lessons, I really dedicated myself to it because I had this great connection with it.”
Stuchbery, in his second season with the YSO, will be playing the guitar concerto Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un gentilhombre as the featured soloist. He applied last year and was chosen by the directors. It has been a nine month process of practicing and perfecting the concerto.
“I had this dream to play a guitar concerto a number of years ago and ordered two different concerto’s. Ultimately I ended up choosing this one because every time I listened it grew more and more on me. Baroque guitarists have this beauty in the folk sound way that exploits the guitar’s qualities. This song has the guitar fighting back with the orchestra then they play together. The happy and long slow movements are so emotional and this piece took me on a journey from majestic exposure to the happy dancing at the end. I just naturally wanted to play this,” he said.
Stuchbery said his time with the YSO has been a fantastic experience, he regularly plays the french horn with the orchestra, and it has allowed him to grow his repertoire. He has plans next year to attend university and continue learning his craft on the guitar. Stuchbery also has been working on composing his own music and has help with mentor Iman Raminsh, who founded the YSO.
The Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Okanagan musicians are tipping their bows (and other instruments) to Raminsh at upcoming concerts as the orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary. Raminsh, now 70, has mentored and taught many young Okanagan musicians as founder and past leader of the YSO.
With the YSO’s baton now passed on to the Okanagan Symphony’s Rosemary Thomson and Dennis Colpits, the orchestra continues to flourish under Raminsh’s vision as will be seen and heard when the first concert takes place Saturday at the Cleland Community Theatre.
The second concert is a celebratory event with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, where the YSO will perform a piece written specifically for them by Raminsh on Nov. 16 in Penticton at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleland. Guest artist will be Colleen Venables on the violin and the YSO.
Raminsh, who just returned from Vancouver where he saw his new work based on a Stó Lō Nation legend premiered by vocal ensemble Musica Intima, says he is happy with the direction the YSO has taken since it moved two years ago under the OSO’s umbrella as part of their outreach and education program.
“During the history of the YSO we approached the OSO for a closer association, which I felt would have a mutual benefit,” said Raminsh. “Rosemary had an interest in youth and Dennis was already sharing duties with me, so I knew I had left the YSO in very capable waters and I’ve kept out of muddying those waters.”
In the 23 years of leading the YSO, Raminsh admits there were some rocky patches, where the future of the orchestra was uncertain, but there’s been mostly successes.
“We’re happy to have added some relevance to the musical community and for the youth,” he said. “We may not have been the ultimate interpreter of Beethoven’s symphonies, but we have always strived for the highest level and have provided opportunities to young people to study the orchestral literature and solo material as well as compose their own music. That idea was an obvious one to me to provide kids with the opportunity on how a symphony orchestra functions.”
But first the YSO takes centre stage at its fall concert, Saturday in Penticton at 7:30 p.m.
The young musicians will perform Mussorgsky’s Polonaise, Borodin’s In the Steppes of Central Asia, Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un gentilhombre, Fucik’s Entrance of the Gladiators, Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite, Bernstein’s Westside Story and Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark.
-With files from Kristin Froneman/Black Press