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Musical youth

The weather's heating up, the days are ticking until the end of the school year, and the kids are getting restless.

Fear not, the Imagination Celebration is in full swing.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the full-county, multiweek collaboration among municipalities, educational institutions, libraries and professional arts organizations, geared at exposing youth to the performing, literary and visual arts.

This year's theme is "Imagination Opens the Door," and the 2010 celebration is dedicated to arts advocate Marilyn Nielsen of the California Arts Council, a former teacher and Imagination Celebration chairwoman.

A fitting finaleOne of the most anticipated events this year is a triple-bill shared by the Pacific Symphony's three Youth Ensembles. The program has developed a name as one of the top educators of young musicians in the Southland, and works with musicians ages 11 to 21.

The Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensembles will perform "Thundering Winds" at 2 p.m. Saturday. The repertoire features Gabrieli's "Canzona No. 1"; Lauridsen's choral masterwork, "O Magnum Mysterium," arranged for band; Giroux's "La Mezquita de Cordoba"; Hansen's "Chorale and Alleluia"; and former Pacific Symphony composer-in-residence Frank Ticheli's "Shenandoah."

"My first months with the Youth Wind Ensemble have been filled with an exciting whirlwind of growth and activity," ensemble music director Joshua Roach said. "By the time we perform on May 15, this group of musicians will have already performed challenging music at an extremely high artistic level. They are elegantly playing music that some colleges wouldn't dare and most high schools wouldn't dream of doing."

The Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings will perform "Celebration in Sound" at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, followed by the season finale also featuring the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra at 4 p.m.

The program includes a musical journey of sorts through the history of the United States, led by crowd-pleaser Maxim Eshkenazy, the symphony's assistant conductor.

The 2:30 p.m. performance includes Sarch's "Colonial Williamsburg Odyssey," which evokes everything from a burgess' ball to slave songs to Bernstein's "America" and "One Hand, One Heart" from "West Side Story" before concluding with Copland's Western "Hoe-down" from "Rodeo."

Following an intermission, the Santiago Strings will join the Youth Orchestra at 4 p.m. for Barber's emotionally charged "Adagio for Strings." The Youth Orchestra then will continue with Daugherty's "Once Upon a Castle," an homage to Hearst Castle and Orson Welles, before concluding with movements I and IV of Shostakovich's ferocious "Fifth Symphony."

"It has been an incredible season for the Youth Ensembles," said their director, Dominic Mumolo. "All three groups have premiered newly commissioned works. The Youth Orchestra has successfully performed challenging major works such as Stravinsky's 'Firebird Suite' and Beethoven's 'Seventh Symphony,' and the Youth Wind Ensemble participated in the American Composers Competition, impressively performing three new commissions by up-and-coming composers. And the Symphony's Santiago Strings are performing at their highest level to date."

Other optionsIf the very thought of making children sit through the symphony induces tears, consider these alternatives:

The Orange County Fine Arts Showcase Gallery, 3851 S. Bear St., Suite B15, near South Coast Plaza, will exhibit the 25 top Imagination Celebration posters for this year's poster contest through May 23. More than 500 entries were received from students in grades seven to 12. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Branch libraries countywide will participate through May 23 with art by local children as well as special events for families. The Bowers Museum will come to the Mesa Verde Library, 2969 Mesa Verde Drive in Costa Mesa, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. May 27 to present an Aztec Mask Making program for kids ages 5 to 12. For more information, visit

The Newport Beach Public Library has many family events up its sleeve as well. The Mariners Branch, 1300 Irvine Ave., will have a Sesame Street party from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Makinto: The International Music Bus will make an appearance from 11 a.m. to noon May 22 at the Central Library Friends Meeting Room, 1000 Avocado Ave. And the library also will celebrate Star Wars Day from 2 to 5 p.m. May 29, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the "The Empire Strikes Back." Register for their events at

What happened after the story of Romeo and Juliet ended? Find out when the South Coast Repertory's Teen Players perform "After Juliet" from May 29 to June 6 at the Repertory's Nicholas Studio, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. The play was based on an original idea by Keira Knightley and written by her mother, playwright Sharman Macdonald, with thanks to William Shakespeare. Although the Capulets and Montagues have declared peace, their kids have other ideas. The play's an action- and comedy-filled romp recommended for those 13 and older. A "living statue" performer and her brother save the day in "Ben and the Magic Paintbrush," a show for younger audiences also at South Coast Repertory from May 21 to June 6. For more information, visit

For movie buffs, the 40th anniversary of the Orange Coast Community Student Film Festival at the Robert B. Moore Performing Arts Theatre, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, is the place to be. The showcase features a range of shorts by students; this year's event is at 8 p.m. May 22. Admission is $10.

If You Go What: Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles performancesWhen: 2 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 and 4 p.m. SundayWhere: Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa MesaCost: $18 per performanceInformation: (714) 755-5799 or visit

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