Musicians Display Prowess Beyond Years

They might be young, but they’re far from restless.

Pomona College’s Bridges
Hall of Music was a packed house Sunday, Feb. 1 for the Intermezzo Orchestra, a youth orchestra associated with the Claremont Young Musicians Orchestra (CYMO). The
orchestra featured 76 musicians from ages 9-17, playing instruments from violin to
flute to oboe. The orchestra played an eclectic set of classical pieces, ranging
from the sweeping melodies of Beehtoven’s “Egmont Overture” to the intensely-oscillating technicality of Elgar’s “Pomp & Circumstance.”

The orchestra played cohesively through the array of complex pieces, with an impressive synchrony down to the moments of pause. 

“The pieces were pretty intense,” said Benjamin
Filo, a 15-year-old violinist from Nogales High School. “The dynamics were
difficult, but once we got it, it felt good.”

Julianne Johnson, a 16-year-old
cellist from Redlands High School, agreed.

“In the past our
pieces have been very mellow, but these were difficult and fun.”

This focus and
desire for a challenge came from the orchestra’s practice regiment, as they meet
every Sunday afternoon for two hours. 

Ashley Oh, an oboe player from Lomalinda Academy, spoke to the orchestra’s serious work ethic when she said, “We would tune and get straight to the

this is not to say that the orchestra was overly somber or stiff. 

“I feel it went very
well,” Johnson said. “What helped a lot was working as a group and finding our energy.”

Bonding events, such as a musician retreat led by conductor Roger Samuels and his wife, helped diffuse tensions and stress. Many of the students attested to Samuels’ ability to create a focused, yet fun, environment.

“Our conductor is really funny—[he] and his wife as a couple add a lot of spunk to the orchestra,” Johnson said.

13-year-old Jessica Chao agrees with Johnson in her appreciation of Samuels. The violinist from Day Creak Intermediate School first auditioned when she was just 10 years old, and now, three years later, she is the principal violinist and enjoying herself all the while. 

“Our conductor tells funny
stories—he is strict, but in a good way,” Chao said.
“I was proud of everyone; we all worked very hard.”

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