~ By Julia Copeland, Executive Director of the Youth Orchestras of Fresno

The Youth Orchestras of Fresno will debut a new orchestral work, inspired by author William Saroyan and written by four Fresno State composers, at their annual Youth Music Extravaganza. The concert will also feature rock star violinist Vadim Gluzman (and his 300-year-old Stradivarius).

Vadim GluzmanThis newly commissioned work, called “Coming Home in reference to themes in Saroyan’s novel “The Human Comedy” (in which home is a thinly disguised Fresno), is a collaborative work involving six composers and an untold number of community members who have shared their stories to help create this project.

Four Fresno State composers – Alexander Bianco, Chris Carreon, Mason Lamb and Matthew Wheeler – with guidance from composition Professors Benjamin Boone and Kenneth Froelich, have created the music the three orchestras will perform.

Interwoven with the music will be spoken words from members of the community who have told their stories of home to students in Fresno State Department of Media, Communications and Journalism.

As for the Strad-violinist, Vadim Gluzman will play the ex-Leopold Auer Stradivarius in a performance of the Tchaikovsky violin concerto with the Youth Orchestras’ Youth Philharmonic, average age 15 years.

Also on the program: Leonard Bernstein’s beloved Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” It’s impossible not to love the tunes and settings – “I Feel Pretty,” “Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us),” “Maria” and the dances – rumba and mambo!

The concert will close with all three orchestras performing “Conga del Fuego Nuevo by Mexican composer Arturo Marquez. Professor Thomas Loewenheim will conduct.

INFO: 4 p.m. Sunday, May 28, Saroyan Theatre. The concert is free, but donations at the door are welcomed.