In his remarks midway through Wednesday's "Side-By-Side" concert featuring the Utah Symphony and the Granite Youth Symphony, Joseph Silverstein pointed out there are two aspects to music education: the inspiration the student gets from the teacher and the revitalization the teacher gets from the student.
He might have added a third, namely the thrill the students' families experience on hearing the results. Which may seem a strange thing to say about an orchestra that made its Carnegie Hall debut last year, but plainly this was a Granite Youth audience.How else to explain the applause that greeted that orchestra when its members appeared onstage in their blue dresses and black tuxedos, before they had even played a note? Or the satisfaction evident on the faces of audience members 6 to 60 (and maybe beyond) when those notes began?
"Where's so-and-so?" tiny voices murmured behind me. "Right up there behind the conductor," came the whispered answer. "Where's Mr. Silverstein?" "He's the one with the white hair on his head, everywhere except the very top."
Well, you did need a scorecard of sorts to keep track of the conductors, of which there were two on this concert. First the white-haired Mr. Silverstein led the Utah Symphony alone in Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks," a bit expansive in places but fat of sound and impressively weighty in the climaxes.
Then came Granite Youth music director Richard Chatelain to lead that orchestra in Rimsky-Korsakov's "Procession of the Nobles," the Faure "Pavane" and the "Berceuse" and Finale from Stravinsky's "Firebird" Suite.
Except for the conductor's beat, I wouldn't have called the first particularly steady, especially the taxing trumpet parts. But for the most part these young players, largely drawn from the nine high schools in the Granite School District, made up in size (with three more cellos than the Utah Symphony) and enthusiasm what they sometimes lacked in polish.
At the same time they managed to capture both the mystery and brilliance of "The Firebird," with its explosive percussion, as well as some well-deserved solo bows for the flute (in the Faure) and the horn.
Further honors were bestowed at halftime by Granite District music supervisor Ellis C. Worthen on various orchestra members, including college scholarships for concertmistress Melissa Russell and bass player Tom Dobson. And an honorary lifetime membership in the orchestra for Silverstein.
After which it literally became a side-by-side concert when both orchestras combined for Silverstein-conducted performances of the opening movement of the Schubert Ninth Symphony and Brahms' "Academic Festival" Overture, a longtime Silverstein specialty.
If I found the sheer size of the orchestra too much for the first, at least it lived up to its nickname - the "Great" C major Symphony. In addition to which, within an otherwise classical framework, Silverstein was able to incorporate a number of idiomatically Viennese swells.
By the same token, the Brahms exhibited an increasingly strong sense of direction, culminating in a breathtaking and again sharply percussive chorale. If memory serves, that tune, "Gaudeamus Igitur," was in fact appropriated by Highland High School some years ago. But I do not remember any performances there as solid as this - as solid as granite, you might say.