By Malikhanye Mankayi
The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO), conducted by Benjamin Zander, recently performed at the Monument’s Guy Butler Theatre at the 2023 National Arts Festival. The performance formed the final leg of their South African tour.
The 120-member ensemble presented a rousing performance, showcasing two great works in the Orchestral repertoire – Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) and Beethoven’s iconic Fifth Symphony. Zander’s bracing, revelatory account of this Beethoven symphony thrills audiences worldwide whenever he conducts it.
The BPYO was formed in 2012 under the auspices of the Boston Philharmonic. The orchestra features enthusiastic and talented young musicians ranging from 12 to 21 years of age, affording younger members of the orchestra the chance to collaborate with older students who are beginning their professional careers.
In turn, collegiate members of the group are offered the opportunity to nurture and coach future generations. BPYO also illustrates the intention of sowing the seeds for more exciting collaborations.
The orchestra offers a unique opportunity for young instrumentalists who want to study orchestral repertoire in a musically dynamic and intellectually stimulating community. Zander, through email, phone calls, and rehearsal times, creates a unique mentoring relationship with each musician.
Sharing his views on the orchestra’s performance, Zander says: “They did spectacularly. They were very close to perfection. I could tell that even the audience were pleased about the performance, especially those who know music very well.” One of the performers, Henry Monroe, expresses the thrill of coming to South Africa for the first time, saying, “I didn’t know what to expect … but South African people showed us their kindness and opened their hearts for us,” he says.
If you didn’t catch the BPYO this year, it’s safe to say you missed out. While we hope it may return for a future Fest, there is years worth of footage to be enjoyed on their Youtube channel ‘Boston Philharmonic’.