Cellist David Bjella joins FSYO concert

The Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra's 57th season opens with a concert this Saturday, Oct. 13, featuring all four of the organization's orchestras, as well as cellist David Bjella, who enjoys a successful career as both an educator and performer.

The orchestras — Overture Strings, a string training orchestra with performers 7 to 14 years old; Prelude, whose musicians are age 9 to 15; Philharmonia, featuring 11- to 18-year-olds; and Symphonic, a pre-professional group whose members are age 13 to 20 — will present works from composers including Verdi, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

The Symphonic orchestra program will feature a piece for solo cello and orchestra with cellist Bjella, associate professor of cello and director of the chamber-music program at Stetson University. Bjella also serves as co-principal of the IRIS Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Michael Stern.

Bjella will be performing Gabriel Faure's Elegie for cello and orchestra.

"It [The Elegie] is a solo cello piece with orchestra that is extremely emotional and gut-wrenching at its core," Bjella says. "It has the full range of dynamics, and it is written in the incredibly dark key of C minor. It is also an 'old friend' of mine, and I absolutely love the way Faure has orchestrated the piece."

The most special aspect of the piece is a "dark singing quality I love... It should soar above the orchestra," Bjella says. "The biggest challenge is bringing across the emotional element of the music, along with projecting beyond the symphonic sound."

The professor has spent time with various FSYO students helping them to strengthen their skills, but this will be the first time he has played with an FSYO orchestra in concert.

Mr. Bjella sees playing for a live audience essential to a young musician.

"Playing music with an audience is the best for any of us," he says. "There is an edge that comes with a live performance that one can never duplicate in the practice room or rehearsal. The art of communication is a wonderful thing to feel and react to as well. I love it, and it is important for kids to experience that as well."

The concert begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, 401 W. Livingston St., Orlando. Tickets range from $8-$16 and are available at the FSYO website, fsyo.org

Programs are sponsored in part by the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs; the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Darden Restaurant Foundation; Universal Orlando Foundation; and United Arts of Central Florida.

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