The Pro Musica Youth Orchestra is back after a 20-month hiatus because of the pandemic and the tragic loss of the orchestra’s founder and Pro Musica vice president, Tim Hazel, who passed away on Feb.3 from stomach cancer.
An exciting new youth music director and conductor, Robert Mari, has assumed the podium and the popular orchestra has been in rehearsal for more than a month.
To celebrate the return of the orchestra, Pro Musica has set its first concert for Sunday 12 December 2021 at 3 pm. This will take place outdoors with socially distanced seating in the delightful gardens of the Arts School of the Instituto Allende on Ancha de San Antonio.
The youth orchestra’s previous home, in the Belles Artes complex, has yet to re-open. In the old days, Hazel would conclude each concert with a wry tale of his need to feed his 12 children — or 8 or 6, it varied. A scruffy straw hat with a pink ribbon would be passed among the audience and the money, of course, went to supporting the orchestra which grew in size and capability over the past three years.
Now, Pro Musica is asking for a $300 peso donation from attendees. Tickets can be purchased through the Pro Musica website at www.promusicasma.org . Proceeds will go to the orchestra members, according to Pro Musica.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to show your support for the orchestra under its new conductor and to see how the young musicians are performing,” says Michael Pearl, president of Pro Musica, in a press release. “I have attended rehearsals of the orchestra and they are sounding excellent.”
The program will include works by Mozart and Haydn.
The centerpiece of the concert will be Mozart’s wonderful Symphony No. 35 in D major, the “Haffner”, written in 1782. And just for fun, ours and theirs, the orchestra will also play Mozart’s K.552, known as “A Musical Joke”. (A loose translation of the German title, “Some Musical Fun.”) The work satirizes other composers’ styles and is “a masterclass in using wrong notes and compositorial comedic devices.”
Pro Musica calls it, “an ideal piece for a youth orchestra.”
From Haydn, the orchestra draws on his Symphony 99 in E-flat major, written in 1793 in Vienna for performance during his second visit to England. It is the seventh of the ultimately twelve “London” symphonies.
This will be followed by the “Toy” symphony. This 18th-century work is variously attributed to Joseph Haydn, Leopold Mozart, Michael Haydn, and Edmund Angerer. As the title suggests, the performance includes various “toy” instruments, such as a toy trumpet, a ratchet, and bird calls.
The Canadian native Robert Mari conducted the Cowichan Consort Orchestra and Choir starting in 2011 and recently retired. He is no stranger to youth orchestras, having started his own studies at age 3 on the piano. He first performed in public at age 5 and conducted his first symphony at age 13.
He holds masters and doctorate degrees in music and orchestral conducting respectively from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University among other music-related studies. He is a composer, recording artist, conductor, and performer.
(Correction: The post originally said Robert Mari has been with Pro Musica since 2011. He is just beginning a new career with Pro Musica. My apologies for the error.)