Philharmonic Youth Orchestra concert features three enthusiastic soloists

News-DemocratDecember 4, 2013 

The three young soloists set to perform at the Belleville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra's big concert on Sunday are preparing in their own ways.

Oboist Bailey Martin-Giacalone, 17, of Belleville, has spent many hours practicing Mozart's "Concerto in C for Oboe."

"I've been trying to work on my speed," she said. "When I practice, I use a metronome. It's an electronic device that gives you a tempo."

Violinist Julia Riew, 14, of Ladue, Mo., performed her solo for "Violin Concerto No. 1, Op. 26" by Max Bruch for her family on Thanksgiving.

"I also play for my dogs (Toby and Rocky)," she said. "They're usually in the room where I'm practicing. They usually sleep through it, but it's an audience."

The orchestra will present the annual George N. Tuerck Memorial Concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Union United Methodist Church.

The three soloists are winners of a concerto competition. Six musicians in grades 4-12 entered last spring.

"The winner for each category (strings, woodwinds and piano) gets to perform in our first concert of the season," said orchestra co-chair Rosie Hartley. "They receive scholarship money, too."

Lauren Cerbin, 11, of Belleville, will play "Piano Concerto in C" by Joseph Haydn with her mother, Gill Cerbin, a piano teacher. This is Lauren's first time performing with an orchestra.

"I'm nervous and excited, but I'll give it my best shot," she said. "And I know I'll feel good afterward."

The concert is named for George N. Tuerck, a Belleville violinist and teacher who conducted the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra from 1954 to 1961 and founded the youth orchestra.

The concert will be conducted by Music Director Leon Burke III. He has developed a program with wide variety, everything from "The Wind Beneath My Wings" to a Beatles medley.

"We're going to do a selection of familiar tunes, some of them classical, some of them not," Burke said. "There will be a little bit of Halloween music and a little bit of Christmas music."

Burke is a classical-music-lover whose favorite part of the program is an excerpt from Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony."

It's always a challenge for Burke to plan the youth orchestra's first concert of the season because he hasn't yet seen the full capabilities of members.

"I'm always thinking, 'How do I keep the more advanced musicians challenged but make sure the younger players who aren't that experienced don't feel like it's over their heads?'" he said. "That's the tightrope I walk."

Lauren is a sixth-grader at St. Teresa Catholic School in Belleville. She's the youngest winner of the concerto competition.

"I like the tempo of (the Haydn piece)," she said. "It's quite fast, and I like fast. I'm very active. I like sports. I play soccer, volleyball, basketball and tennis, and I run track."

Bailey is a senior at Belleville West High School. She's the only one of the three soloists who is a regular member of the Belleville youth orchestra.

Bailey also plays flute, alto saxophone and viola. She didn't take up oboe until three years ago.

"It's definitely a challenge for me," she said. "I'm constantly figuring out new things about the oboe. There's a lot of classical music that features the oboe, and that's what I like to play."

Julia is a freshman at John Burroughs School in St. Louis. She has been playing violin since age 4 and is first chair in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Julie picked the Bruch piece because it's challenging and dramatic.

"(My competition performance) was one of my best performances," she said. "I had played this song enough that it finally clicked for me."

The Belleville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is open to students grades 4-12.

"We hope that other young musicians will come to this concert and be inspired to achieve a higher excellence and that they will come and audition for the orchestra," Hartley said.

At a glance

What: George N. Tuerck Memorial Concert

Who: Belleville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

When: 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Union United Methodist Church, 721 E. Main St. in Belleville

Admission: $2

Information: 618-235-5600, or

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