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Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra bringing music back to Kern County

Posted at 8:23 PM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 02:18:47-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra is bringing music back to Kern County starting this evening after about a year and a half of no performances.

If you take a look at the program for tonight’s performance, you’ll see that the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra is picking up right where they left off.

California’s shutdown due to COVID-19 happened right before their March 2020 performance. Like most of the music industry, they’ve had nothing on the calendar, until tonight’s concert.

60 musicians are performing tonight, including three soloists, a cellist, a violinist, and a trombone player. Violin soloist Brian Shih telling me that playing the solo he was meant to play at that march 2020 show feels nostalgic.

It’s an experience they’re sharing with an audience in person. They’re playing pieces from Ludwig Van Beethoven, Camille Saint-Saens, and Nikolai Rimsky- Korsaav Mendelson.

“It was one of the strangest periods of our lives, for sure. I’m not going to say tragic but certainly strange. That fermatta that suddenly happened is now coming to an end,” said Maxim Eshkenazy, music director for the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Eshkenazy calls their performance Friday night, the end of the end, a beginning. 60 orchestra members picking up their instruments in tandem at St. John’s Lutheran Church after canceling their March 2020 concert and not performing together for more than a year and a half.

Violin soloist Brian Shih, says he was sad when that show was canceled, but his family and friends got him through it.

“Playing online for almost the whole school year can get pretty lonely sometimes. Now that we’re back together, it’s a great experience to have again,” he said.

But Shih says Friday night’s in-person performance, which would have been what they performed in March 2020, may be his last with Byso before he goes off to CSU long beach to major in music performance.

Trombone player and soloist, Ethan Howard finds himself in a similar position, as a 2020 high school graduate headed Azusa Pacific to major in trombone performance. he’s been in Byso since he was in eighth grade and says performing the Korsakov piece he originally slated for that canceled 2020 performance is a bittersweet finale.

“It’s a little bit sad that I have to say goodbye, but it’s also nice, because it’s a part of my last chapter, you know?” Howard said. “Because when I go off to college, that’s when my new chapter begins. And I'm finally happy I get to play this piece.”