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Reflecting On A Mammoth Piece Of Music With YOSA

Page Graham
YOSA onstage at the Tobin Center.

A sold-out crowd enjoyed YOSA (Youth Orchestras of San Antonio) on May 17, 2015 at the Tobin Center for a massive performance of Carl Orff's "scenic cantata," Carmina Burana. San Antonio's premier youth orchestra was joined by the Children's Chorus of San Antonio, the UIW Cardinal Chorale, the San Antonio Choral Society, and solosits Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Ryland Angel, and Zachary Gordin. 

You can see video of the performance below:

Conductor Troy Peters was still on cloud nine nearly a month after the concert as I spoke to him in our studios.

Nathan Cone: How did it feel to be onstage at the Tobin for “Carmina Burana?”

Troy Peters: "Carmina" is a thrill to be a part of because you’ve got 300 musicians working together at the same time, and we had great singers from the San Antonio Choral Society, the UIW Cardinal Chorale, and the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio. We had three really world-class vocal soloists who came in, and thanks to the support from the National Endowment for the Arts, we were able to bring in these soloists, who were the real deal. And then of course you got this big orchestra, more than 100 musicians, making a gigantic, clamoring sound! It’s a lot of fun to be in the middle of.

Was that the first time that you had cracked the score and really dove into it?

So I’ve played "Carmina Burana," I grew up as an orchestra musician, [so] I played the viola part several times. I sang in it once. I had studied the score as a conductor, because I’d almost programmed it a couple of times in the past, but this is the first time that I’ve actually conducted a performance of it. And so yeah, you dig in more and really get inside the notes, and all of that crazy old Latin, and try to figure out what this all means! How it all fits together. There’s a reason it’s such a popular piece, because it’s a perfectly crafted package of music. It’s full of great tunes and great energy.

When the kids were presented with "Carmina Burna," did they get excited about that?

As soon as I announced that we were doing “Carmina,” the kids were over the moon! Everybody knows the first two minutes of this piece, EVERYBODY has heard the beginning of this piece! People who’ve never been inside of a concert hall in their lives have heard this in commercials, and movies, and TV shows, comedy bits, all over the place. So for the kids in YOSA, that was a thrill. What was exciting beyond that was seeing them get to know the whole thing, to discover the full journey of this piece and all the different emotions and worlds that are inside it.

This has been a great year for YOSA, and the Tobin Center plays a big role in that. They’ve given us the chance to challenge ourselves and reach new levels. In the fall, working with Ricardo Chavira, in the winter, working with Branford Marsalis… it’s all about trying to take advantage of the fact that the whole city is thinking about the performing arts a little bit more because of the Tobin Center. There’s this window of opportunity to do your best work and try to get people to know who you are. We feel pretty proud of how that’s gone for us this year.