The Youth Orchestras of Fresno offers a notable guest artist for its big concert on Sunday, Dec. 11: Maria Sanderson, 17, of Bloomington Ind., this year’s first-prize Junior Division winner of the prestigious Sphinx Competition.
She will play the Barber violin concerto. Also on the program are all 250 musicians in the orchestra’s three ensembles playing Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” Bizet’s “Carmen Suites,” Liszt’s Mazeppa Symphonic Poem, Puccini’s “Carpiccio Sinfonico” and the finale of Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” Adam Elmore and Music Director Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.
The concert is 4 p.m. Sunday at Shaghoian Hall, 2770 E. International Ave. It is free, though a donation of $10 is suggested. Seats can also be reserved in advance at http://yoof11.bpt.me/
We caught up with Sanderson, who has attended Indiana University’s String Academy for nine years, via email just before she flew to Fresno.
Q: What are your first memories of the violin?
A: My three older siblings all played violin, so I can remember violin music around me from my earliest memories. When I was young I wanted to play very badly but we didn't have a fourth violin. My brother made me one with rubber bands over a piece of wood, and I adored it!
Q: How old were you when you realized you really wanted to get serious about your instrument?
A: I always wanted to play the violin. When I was 11 or 12 I began to practice without being asked to.
Q: What's a typical day like for you in terms of practicing, lessons, school, etc.?
A: I am homeschooled, so I am able to fit practicing and lessons in between my other studies.
Q: Fresno is proud of its fine youth orchestra. What do you think it says about a community when it encourages classical music among its young people?
A: I believe that having a strong support for the arts for young people is a crucial part of supporting the development of the whole person. I deeply love science too, but I believe, like the classical Greek educators, that the arts are at least as important as the sciences, and I applaud the Fresno community for its support of music within the community.
Q: Tell us about what you’ll be playing.
A: I will be playing Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto. This piece was one of Barber's first major commissions. Barber started writing this piece in Switzerland but before he was able to get very far World War II broke out. I can really hear the coming of war in the third mvt. He soon traveled back to America to avoid the war. This was where he had spent all his childhood years and you can really hear in the first and second movement how happy he was to be home.
Q: What do you like to do for fun when you aren't playing violin?
A: I love painting, riding horses and walking in the woods.
Q: What was it like winning the Sphinx Competition?
A: A dream come true for me. My older brother had been a previous laureate and it really was my greatest dream for years before I competed.