Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra will tour this summer in Bulgaria, its conductor's homeland [Updated]
The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra will tour overseas for the first time this summer, a 10-day, three-city trip to Bulgaria led by its music director, Maxim Eshkenazy, who knows the turf as a native Bulgarian.
The group, which numbers about 75 musicians ages 13 to 18, will travel June 26 to July 5, performing in Plovdiv, Varna and the capital city, Sofia. The program is a mixture of American and European selections: George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” Suite," Leonard Bernstein’s “Slava! A Political Overture” and John Williams’ “Star Wars” theme on the American side, Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and “Thracian Dances” from Bulgarian Petkov Staynov on the Eastern European end, and a Hollywood-Central European hybrid in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme by German film composer Klaus Badelt. (For the Record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that the program for the Bulgaria tour would include Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue.")
Eshkenazy and the youth orchestra will give “Porgy and Bess” a shakedown run Sunday at 4 p.m. as part of their concert program at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, where they will join forces with another youth ensemble, the Pacific Chorale Honor Choir.
Eshkenazy (pictured) grew up in Sofia, where his father played in the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra. He earned master's degrees in violin and conducting at USC, and has been assistant conductor of the Pacific Symphony since 2008; he is also on the Colburn School faculty and is assistant conductor of its Colburn Orchestra and interim conductor of the Colburn Chamber Orchestra. In 2009 he led his charges in the Bakersfield Youth Symphony to South Korea to perform in Bakersfield’s sister city, Bucheon.
-- Mike Boehm
Photos: Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra; Maxim Eshkenazy. Credits: Pacific Symphony