Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra growing in size, musicianship in second year
Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette Pablo Ardiles instructs Chelsea Boucek, 18, during a lesson at Musik Innovations in McCandless. Mr. Ardiles volunteers his time with the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra. Chelsea is a former member of the orchestra.
Share with others:
On a summer-like afternoon, Pablo Ardiles skipped the sunshine to spend the better part of the day in a windowless room, helping young musicians coax barnyard sounds from their musical instruments.
"I want you to sound more like a chicken," he instructed one oboe player, smiling but insistent.
In the friendliest possible way, Mr. Ardiles made it clear that he knew what he wanted from the string, percussion, brass and wind instruments that surrounded him. As the group practiced a catchy composition called "Chicken Reel," Mr. Ardiles encouraged, joked and occasionally nagged his students to come together as an orchestra.
Mr. Ardiles, 45, of McCandless, is cofounder and music director of the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra, a 2-year-old group whose members range in age from 10 to 20 years. The orchestra will hold its final performance of the year Sunday, a free concert at Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel.
Mr. Ardiles leads the orchestra as a volunteer. He earns his living as a musician and private music teacher, but the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra is truly a labor of love.
"I love doing this," he said. "The reward is the music itself."
At Sunday's rehearsal, he pushed his students to perfect their repertoire, which he said was highly challenging but also satisfying to the musicians.
"They know they're doing good music, music from the masters," he said. "They feel that it's something important."
And it's important to Mr. Ardiles that his students grow as musicians.
The upcoming concert, with a program titled "Dance, Music & Rhyme -- Treat Your Eyes And Ears Big Time!" features works of Bach, Handel and Wagner. To lighten things up, Leroy Anderson's "Chicken Reel" is included.
The piece is fun and familiar -- anyone who has seen a cartoon with a barnyard scene has probably heard it -- but it is also quick and difficult to play.
To succeed, musicians in the chamber orchestra must take private lessons because its repertoire is so difficult, he said. "These are pieces that are played by professional musicians."
Yet he's had no trouble attracting participants to the relatively new group.
Last year, the first year for the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra, it had 18 members. This year, it has 56, he said.
"I love working with Pablo," said Alexandra Reznik, 19, a violinist from Shaler who attends Chatham University, where she is majoring in English and music. "He's an awesome conductor. He keeps us focused the entire rehearsal."
Mr. Ardiles, who teaches at Musik Innovations in McCandless, plays violin and viola. He is also music director of Serenading Strings, a group of musicians for hire.
He is founder of the Musik Innovations Chamber Music Camp, now in its 10th season. He started the program, he said, to give young musicians a chance to learn in the chamber music tradition of smaller groups playing classical selections, at times with no conductor. Many local school districts do not offer such an opportunity, he said.
Participants include some of his private students and other students who were recommended by their music teachers.
Originally from Argentina, Mr. Ardiles earned his bachelor's degree in chamber music from the University of La Plata in Buenos Aires and his master's in music in violin performance from Carnegie Mellon University.
Kim Wachter, manager of Musik Innovations, said Mr. Ardiles was once her violin instructor, and she very much appreciated his teaching style.
Because he is a practicing musician, she said, the students know that the results he expects are realistic.
"Even if he gets a little demanding, it's never in a mean way. He just knows you can do better," she said.
The Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra will perform at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Richard E. Rauh Theater, Hillman Center for the Performing Arts, Shady Side Academy Senior School, 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. The Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Company and guest flute soloist Andrei Pidkivka will perform. Details are available at www.pyco.info.
First Published May 1, 2008 5:22 am