By Annie Chang

rsz psyo2The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO) performed its fall concert at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on Nov. 15th under the direction of Assistant Conductor Roger Kalia.

The 123-member orchestra played repertoire consisting of Sibelius’s Finlandia, Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 1, and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Kalia, 31, who comes from the Charlotte Symphony and Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, joined Pacific Symphony as Assistant Conductor in September.

In preparation for this concert, PSYO musicians rehearsed nine times on Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at UC Irvine, along with a Classical Connections Concert in October and a Saturday rehearsal the day prior to the concert day.

After many weeks of rehearsal, the musicians were looking forward to the performance. Before the concert began, violinist and last season’s Concerto Competition winner Danielle Liu said, “Because we’re an audition-only group, we have a lot of potential. Plus, it’s exhilarating to perform!”

After the first piece, Sibelius’s Finlandia, Kalia introduced PSYO to the large audience as one of the best youth orchestras in the nation. The program then continued with the grand Spanish Carmen Suite, concluding with the famous, ten-movement Pictures at an Exhibition.

Many PSYO musicians were proud of their performance and enjoyed the concert. "The concert was well-played, and in particular the brass and wind sections really rose to the challenge posed by Carmen and Pictures at an Exhibition,” said Kelly Zhou, a cellist. “It was a fun concert to play."

In an email to the orchestra, Kalia said: “I am so proud of each and every one of you for your thrilling and inspired performance last night. Over these past two months, you have all worked extremely hard and it all paid off last night...What a wonderful way to kick of our season!”

Indeed, much lies ahead in the season. The orchestra regularly offers chamber music, community service, and music composition opportunities for its members. PSYO will hold its annual Concerto Competition in Dec., and Jan. promises a retreat at Palomar Mountain. In summer 2016, Kalia will lead the youth orchestra on its tour to China. But for now, the musicians are busy practicing their music for the next session.

"The music chosen for next season is really varied and colorful, with difficult notes and hard ensemble work,” said Zhou. “However, I believe that PSYO is definitely capable of reaching that next level of playing."