This Sunday the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform at Powell Hall, conducted by Steven Jarvi and featuring cellist Grant Riew in Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Riew is a junior at John Buroughs School and the winner of the youth orchestra’s 2014 concerto competition. Last year he and Christopher Halen took first place at the Fox Teen Talent Competition as the “Two Mellow Cello Fellows.”
Riew has been a member of the youth orchestra for four years, and still remembers how nerve-wracking the audition was. He is one of 110 musicians in the orchestra, who range in age from 12 to 22 and come from all over the region to rehearse on Saturdays during the symphony’s season.
“It’s a really great program,” Riew said. “We get to have amazing opportunities with musicians with the symphony. We have sectionals; they help us with learning our music. And we have this annual side-by-side where we actually get to sit next to the symphony members and David Robertson conducts us.”
Riew selected Elgar’s Cello Concerto to play at the youth orchestra concert because it is his favorite cello piece.
“I’d heard a couple of my older peers play it at music camp and it really spoke to me,” Riew said. “Edward Elgar, he’s a British composer, and he actually composed it in 1918 to 1919, which was just after World War I. So there was a lot of anguish going on and it really showcases the passion and the different kinds of sounds that the cello can make.”
In addition to the cello concerto, the program will include Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and Wagner’s “Rienzi” Overture.
Despite Grant Riew’s musical talent, he’s not yet sure he wants to make a career out of music. He’s thinking about going to college and double majoring in music and physics or some other science. But no matter what profession he pursues, Riew knows music will remain an integral part of his life.
“I always want to continue playing the cello,” he said. “I love doing it.”
While many of the members of the youth orchestra do enter the music profession, not all do. There are just not enough jobs in the music industry, said youth orchestra manager Jessica Ingraham. But whatever career they decide to enter, being part of the youth orchestra helps them get into a good college because it demonstrates their dedication and involvement, she said.
The application deadline for this year’s youth orchestra is April 8.
“We’re looking for students who are dedicated to their music,” Ingraham said. “I would say probably 99 percent of our students take private lessons on a regular basis. They’re playing in the top ensembles in their schools. We draw a lot of musicians from the All-State groups and the district honor bands and students who are just looking to be more engaged in music and to really continue to study.”
Grant Riew and Christopher Halen as "Two Mellow Cello Fellows" in 2013.
Steven Jarvi Conducts the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra Featuring Grant Riew in Elgar's Cello Concerto
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd.
For more information, call 314-534-1700 or visit the St. Louis Symphony website.
Cityscape is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer, hosted by Steve Potter and funded in part by the the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission and the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.