Ensembles ally to remember WWI through music: OC Register Article

January 15, 2016 – A new article from the OC Register about OCYSO & YMF’s acclaimed World War I concert at Disney Hall on January 11. This one is not a review of the concert, but rather a look at the choices of music and how they encouraged reflection on the war. The author, Kaitlin Wright, explores Maestro Wachs’ thoughts about the music and how it relates to the young musicians, and she looks at how the combined orchestras prepared for the concert. She also spotlights two young OCYSO musicians’ feelings about the music and about playing with the older musicians from YMF.

RegisterA few quotes from the article:

From Daniel Alfred Wachs:

“World War I is already a footnote in their history books, so this ends up being an educational opportunity for these musicians. This may have brought at least an awareness and an opportunity to think about what is happening in the world today as a result of this war.”

“If you stretch kids’ imagination and knowledge, you will be immensely rewarded and surprised. In seven years as director, I know just how far to push them. I warned them it might sound like Danish to them at first … but we don’t underestimate kids at OCYSO.”

“This connects history to their world today because some of what’s happening now is a result of (World War I). This is not easy material. It’s always a risk, always a gamble, but boy, did it pay off this time.”

OCYSO musician Shelby Ogasawara:

“We’re playing with a full orchestra, which creates this huge sound that you can wrap yourself in. It’s all that more important because, for instance, the person sitting next to me is from the Colburn School, and I’m trying to write down all his advice.” About the music: “…it becomes more than just a piece. It becomes a story about the human spirit.”

OCYSO musician Yousef El-Magharbel:

“It’s always fun to play under someone who is better than you. You get to see how other people interpret the music, and it can give you more ideas about your own playing… I feel like music, with all the emotion it brings, really represents all the sorrows that happened, and that really brings out feelings for people.”

Read the full text of the article at: Ensembles ally to remember World War I through music, OC Register


KUSC Podcasts: Interview with Maestro Wachs + Live Recording of OCYSO/YMF at LACMA

Maestro Wachs and OCYSO have been featured in two recent KUSC programs!



Maestro Daniel Alfred Wachs of OCYSO & Maestro Yuga Cohler of YMF were interviewed on “Arts Alive with Brian Lauritzen,” on KUSC. You can download the podcast or listen online at http://www.kusc.org/Episodes.aspx?PID=2129.





Last Sunday’s OCYSO/YMF Chamber Music Concert at the LA County Museum of Art – the finale to our Centenary commemoration of World War I – was recorded in it’s entirety as part of it’s KUSC’s Sundays Live program. You can download the podcast or listen online at http://www.kusc.org/Episodes.aspx?PID=2147.

WWI Concert at Disney Hall: The Reviews are In!

January 15, 2016—Last Sunday’s phenomenal concert by OCYSO and YMF at Disney Concert Hall, in commemoration of the WWI Centenary, was followed by glowing reviews in the Orange County Register, The Los Angeles Times, and in Musical America. Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, led by Maestros Daniel Alfred Wachs and Yuga Cohler, deserve to take a well-earned collective bow.  Links and selected excerpts from the reviews can be found below.

Orange County Register:



“The Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra, 46 years old, and the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, 60 years old, collaborated Sunday evening at Walt Disney Concert Hall in a serious, thought-inducing program that was dispatched with élan. The two ensembles should plan to get together again soon.”

“The concert opened with the Ives, a pre-war piece that nevertheless ponders the eternal question of existence. The polished reading put the listener in the right frame of mind for the rest of the concert.”

“Wachs led a wonderfully clear and patient traversal [of Turnage’s “Passchendaele”], finding order in complexity. The young musicians appeared to have little trouble with the work’s progressive language.”

“The Debut Orchestra’s new music director, 26-year-old Yuga Cohler, took over the podium for the Nielsen….[and] it was great to hear with such a large ensemble of enthusiastic musicians laying into it, with a high degree of precision no less.”

“The two conductors shared bows at the end, and exchanged a hug. May the relationship continue.”

To read the full review, click here.

Los Angeles Times:



MarkSwe2By Mark SwedContact Reporter



It was only the youth orchestras that evening at Disney that played something new. Mark-Anthony Turnage’s “Passchendaele,” a co-commission by the OC Youth Symphony, had its U.S. debut. Composed for the 2014 remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, this is a somber score with edgy harmonies and eerie solos for trombone, horn, trumpet and three flutes.

Led by symphony Music Director Daniel Alfred Wachs, the performance was mature and moving, as was Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” that began the evening with wondrous grace. The theme was World War I (a symposium was held at the L.A. Public Library earlier in the day), and the program ended with Young Musicians Foundation’s new music director, Yuga Cohler, leading an enthusiastic if uncentered performance of Nielsen’s 1916 “Inextinguishable” Symphony.

The highlight here was a pair of young timpanists banging away like they were in a rock band. Cohler notes in the program booklet that he wants to find a connection between Beethoven and Kanye West in his next concert. After all, Southern California is supposed to be the place where you can reinvent yourself, and that goes for symphony orchestras as well as everything else.

To read the full review, click here.

Musical America:




So Cal Youth Orchestras Pay Tribute to WWI
By Richard S. Ginell, MusicalAmerica.com
January 14, 2016

“LOS ANGELES—In wartime, it is the young who are asked, or ordered, to fight. Appropriately, two very good, long-standing Southern California youth orchestras—the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra—offered a program in commemoration of the outbreak of World War I in Walt Disney Concert Hall January 10.  It was a short one, totaling less than an hour of music, but it packed a potent punch.”

“OCYSO Music Director Daniel Alfred Wachs took charge of the first half of the evening, with the huge young orchestra crammed to the very edges of the Disney Hall stage.  The baton-less conductor set the right atmosphere for The Unanswered Question by getting the strings to open with a slow, faint pianissimo, the discordant winds and questioning trumpet sounding forth from somewhere in the balcony.  At one point, the trumpeter cracked a note, yet it emerged as a poignant cry, like that in the famously touching playing of Taps at President Kennedy’s funeral.

After a pause to return the wind players to the stage, Ives’s questions gave way to outright mourning in Turnage’s piece. Passchendaele is constructed in an arch over the span of about 11-and-a-half minutes, with sustained, aggrieved block chords in the beginning, coming to a head mid-piece a the pace picks up and the chords start to crunch, only to recede into final inconclusive statements by solo trumpet and trombone. It’s a fairly powerful statement, here well executed by the combined orchestras.

After intermission, YMF Debut Orchestra’s newly appointed Music Director Yuga Cohler (and former student of Alan Gilbert), put the young musicians through an often loud, boisterous rendition of Nielsen’s Fourth Symphony, driving healthy young lungs too far, such that the winds and brass overpowered the strings in the first movement.  More impressive was the broadly paced third movement, with strings pouring forth with luscious, passionate unity and concentration.

In the fourth movement, the work’s subtitle, The Inextinguishable, rang especially true. The timpanist whacked away lustily in its pitched battles, making a wild racket, a triumphant affirmation of life even in a time of war.”

OCYSO Hosts: WWI Symposium, January 10, 2016

This Sunday, January 10, at 2pm, don’t miss a panel discussion featuring Philharmonic Society President and Artistic Director John Mangum, Dr. Jennifer D. Keene of Chapman University, and Dana Gioia, California’s Poet Laureate.  The guests will discuss differing artistic responses to war from literary, historical and musical perspectives.

FREE to attend. Presented by the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra and hosted by Los Angeles Central Library, at the Los Angeles Central Library.