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The Romanian Selection for the Youth Orchestra of the European Union

Sunday, 14 February 2010 , ora 13.03
Stress and tension is what the people present at the selection for The Youth Orchestra of the European Union have felt. The event took place on February 12th, 2010 at the Romanian Athenaeum. It started at 11.00 o’clock and it lasted for two hours and a half; the participants performed works with piano accompaniment and orchestral passages. Starting with the violinists and contrabass players, and continuing with flautists and percussionists, they all performed in front of David Strange, the chief of the instrumental chair from the Music Royal Academy of London and the tutor of the violoncello part in the Youth Orchestra, who was delegated to evaluate the candidates.

Unfortunately for them, their stress does not stop here, because the final result will be found out in March. The more inquisitive of them waited until the end of the selection to „grab”, in a subtle manner, more or less, an opinion from David Strange, but they did not succeed very much. I personally did not succeed very much to find out too many details from the master himself in the interview he gave, because I would have loved to share with you such good news. Anyway, Romania will have two persons in the orchestra conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, so we will be proud to be represented by the best young artists in such a valuable and prestigious ensemble.

Because we weren’t allowed to see what happened behind the doors of the Small Hall of the Athenaeum, I wasn’t able to relate to you how the contest went, but the contrabass player Andrei Mihailescu, one of the candidates for the Orchestra, shared with us a few details that will interest you for sure.

What plays did you perform for this year’ selection?

I chose „Introduction and theme with variations” for the singer performance, after the „Venetian Carnival” by Giovanni Bottesini, and of course, the orchestra passages asked by the orchestra jury.

I know that you participated in this competition last year also; has anything been changed to this edition?

This year, in what concerns the running of the selection, things haven’t been changed. The people who came to listen were very nice, open, they encouraged us and they smiled to us from the audience while they listened. In what concerns the selection organization, for which Romania was responsible, the process has been very much improved. Some forces have united, and better publicity was made, also raising the level of quality and even of quantity. This year more candidates were present and we hope for better results.

Why do you want to join the Youth Orchestra of the European Union?

There are a lot of personal reasons that are important for an instrumentalist, but there also social and cultural aspects. First of all is that we represent Romania at an international level. This orchestra is an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of a professional group, which is compared to the best orchestras of the world and they perform on international stages with the best conductors and the greatest soloists. They are also trained by the best professors. It is a great opportunity for one to develop technically, instrumentally, musically, but also socially. You make new friends every year. About this fact, I always like to mention the ensemble secretary, who is also the founder of it, Mrs Joy Bryer, who said: „It is so good to have a friend in each country! When you get to Lisbon, for example, or to Paris, London, Vilnius, you can make a call or write an email and say: Let’s meet and talk, how have you been lately? It is a wonderful thing”. This progress is possible because of the relationships that start there and the friendships between the members of the Orchestra, and of course between the members and professors.

And now the interview that David Strange gave for Radio Romania Music.

What is your opinion about the general level of the candidates this year?

I must say that the general level is better, that we have progressed to a new level. We had 19 young people who participated at the selection, comparing to 12 last year and this is wonderful. Romania is not different from other European countries. Just like other domains, it has very talented people that are on the top and less talented people, so it is a great diversity of performances.

On what elements did you rely on your evaluation?

There was an orchestral audition. We expect that the play accompanied by the piano to be very good, but because it is an orchestral audition the candidates must know very well the passages of the orchestra, and they must be at the same level as the solo plays that every candidate chose. Many candidates have prepared the orchestra passages very well, but there were some who did not do that because they focused on the solo play.

Did you have any pleasant surprises; was there something special that impressed you at this morning audition?

There were some candidates that were really special.

When will we know the results?

This is a long process which started in December 2009, in Holland and it continues until the middle of March 2010. Romania is the seventh country, I think, from 27 and I have a very detailed method to remember people, I have my own system of notation, which helps me very much to finish a selection at the end of the day. 
Petra Gherasim
Translated by Cristina Moraru, Andreea Velicu
MA Students MTTLC, Bucharest University