Review: "Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra tackles tough scores with flair on season opener"

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) has published a review of the first subscription concert of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra's 2015-16 season, led by music director Brett Mitchell:

One of the hallmarks of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra over the years has been the willingness to tackle difficult but rewarding repertoire outside the bounds of the usual middle-European fare of Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms.

Music Director Brett Mitchell has continued that tradition during his tenure with the orchestra, with commendable results. Nowhere was this more evident than in COYO's season opener Sunday night at Severance Hall, which featured, in addition to Schumann's "Rhenish" Symphony, a 2004 orchestral essay by contemporary American composer Kevin Puts titled "River's Rush" and the moving "Jeremiah Symphony" Symphony No. 1 by Bernstein....

COYO was supremely impressive in ["River's Rush"], which makes no outsized demands on individual players' technique, but challenges the group's ensemble playing to a great degree. The orchestra charged confidently into the ten-minute score, playing with commitment and style. Mitchell gave them everything they needed from the podium to keep this protean music on track to its monumental finish.

Bernstein's first symphony, like much of his concert music, is no longer encountered in the concert hall with the frequency it once enjoyed. COYO's performance Sunday made a strong case for its return to regular repertoire, with a first-rate reading...

The young players of COYO fitted themselves with surprising artistry into the somber score. They were especially strong in the middle movement, "Profanation," a wild dance that made great demands on their unity as an ensemble.

To read the complete review, please click here.