A Night of the Young Masters

Seann (L) and Young played a duet by Bach

Thursday night was the gala opening of the Palm Springs Film Noir Festival. And there was a dance choreography going on at the same time across campus at Idyllwild Arts. But for those who came to see Young and Sean’s senior audition on May 13, they were treated to a “Night of the Young Masters.”

“This is going to be the best recital yet,” said Chuck Streeter, as he waited for the event to begin. Streeter is the Idyllwild Arts van driver who takes Seann to his music lesson in LA every Wednesday. He’s also a retired firefighter.

At the onset, it was  apparent why both of these students were accepted to good music schools in the fall. Young was going to The Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, while Seann was accepted at the Julliard School of Music.

“Young is going to a ‘guitar heaven,'” said A-Tao, a bassoonist.

At the time of his Peabody School audition, Young was “psyched-out.”

“I showed up for the audition and there were 36 other guitar students waiting there,” Young said. “I just wanted to turn around and go back out.”

To be accepted into a university of that stature, Young felt very lucky. However, he had to get through his senior recital first.

When the lights dimmed, Young just walked onstage with no introduction. He was wearing a dark, pin-striped shirt and black pants. When he sat down with his guitar, he rested his left foot on a small, metal stand. Apparently, it was to help him steady his guitar while he played.

Young's first piece was by H. Villa-Lobos, a Brazillian composer

The audience was made up of mostly classmates and music faculty at Idyllwild Arts. Some came out of friendship, but a lot came out of curiosity. Because Young is the only classical guitarist on campus. (There is one other student who plays electric guitar in the Jazz Department). Young doesn’t play with the student orchestra, and he’s rarely seen practicing in the practice rooms. More often than not, he’s in his room playing video games.

Young began with a short piece by Heitor Villa-Lobos, “Prelude No. 1.” Villa-Lobos, a Brazilian composer, has become the best-known and most significant Latin American composer to date. His music was influenced by both Brazilian folk music and by stylistic elements from the European classical tradition.

It was an upbeat, romantic and Spanish-sounding piece. Just for fun, I checked out You Tube and listened to H. Villa Lobos playing the same tune. The recording is scratchy, but it is wonderful to hear. By comparison, Villa-Lobos played it with a more delicate hand, but Young did a nice job as well.

Young’s next piece, “La Cathedral,” by Agustin Barrios Mangore, was the favorite of the night. It probably was more of a personal piece, therefore, Young put more of himself into it. Young was raised Catholic, and still practices his religion. Recently, his mother encouraged him to think about becoming a priest. Young just laughed it off.

Young is congratulated by friends afterwards

For his third selection, Young picked “Asturias,” by I. Albeniz. It started out fast-paced, with lots of fancy fingerwork, then strumming. Just when things were starting to pick up, it changed tempo again, and went very slowly. It was sort of a “seduction” with the audience, fast and slow, quiet and loud. When Young finished “Asturias,” he left us wanting more.

His fourth and final piece of the evening was a duet with Seann, the French Horn player. It was called, “P in B Flat,” by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Seann walked out in a tuxedo and bow tie. He brought his shiny silver French Horn and began to play a thousand rapid notes to Young’s laid-back melody. I don’t think I’d ever put a French Horn and classical guitar in the same song. It was like pairing a songbird and an elephant.

Yet, after they played the Praeludium and Allamande, things got better, and we accepted the pairing. By the time they finished the Courante and Sarabande, Seann must’ve played a million rapid-fire notes on his horn, while Young played only a couple hundred.

“I think they worked out well together,” said Kurt Snyder, Seann’s French Horn teacher, who came all the way from LA for his recital.

“That Young is really a master on guitar, isn’t he?” Snyder said.

The two may have played a duet during their recital for more than just altruistic reasons. Sure, they liked each other.

“But they get credit for part of their 45 minutes,” said one of the music students.

So, each of them were going for time, not necessarily quantity. Because, after their “Partita in B Flat,” Seann only had two more songs to play.

Una, who travels with Young on the van to her music lesson every week, gave us a glimpse of what was going on backstage.

“Young would wait for four seconds, then say, ‘Let me out, I want to graduate,'” Una confessed later. Before his second bow, he was already packing his bags.

(from L) Martin, Seann and Daphne (partially obscured) played a strong trio

For his first number, “Fantasy for Horn and Piano,” by Frederic Strauss, Seann was accompanied by Linda, on piano. Both instruments seemed strong and well-matched. Sean stood up during this piece, holding his horn upright, without the help of any sheet music.

He spent a lot of down time, however, blowing spit out of his horn. Spit can cause a gurgling tone, which is a nightmare for horn players. However, all that spit blowing takes some getting used to. Especially with a handsome guy in a tux.

For Seann’s second and final piece of the evening, he chose “Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano, By L. Berkeley. He was joined onstage with fellow musicians Martin on violin and Daphne on piano.

At the onset, it was a long piece with many segments. It started out frenetic and serious that was both dark and enchanting. In my mind, I envisioned proud men on horseback running through the fields.

Martin played the violin part beautifully. He was neither overbearing or too subtle. You couldn’t help but notice him, however, with his cropped, red hair that jetted out and also hung in his eyes.

Daphne, an award-winning pianist, also played beautifully. She’s always hard to photograph, because she hides behind the piano. But her playing was strong, clear, and a perfect complement to the other two instruments.

For his part, I’m glad that Seann chose a piece that showcased the versstility of the French Horn. At times, it sounded like the roar of a bull elephant, while other times, I swore I heard Miles Davis on coronet. When that happened, even Martin smiled.

Only a master could make his horn sound like something else.

(from L) Seann and Kurt Snyder, his teacher

The audience knew it too. They gave Seann a standing ovation.

All I can say about this recital is that I’m sorry that it ended so soon. Sure, it was under the 2-hour limit for senior recitals. But these two young masters, left us wanting more.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This weekend are more Idyllwild Arts events, including 13 student dance choreographies at 7:30 p.m. in the dance studio, and the final student art show at 6 p.m. in the Parks Exhibition Center. On Saturday, Caleigh has a one-man show of her paintings in the Artisans Gallery on North Circle Drive.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org, and click on “Academy,” and then “Center Stage.”

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the attachments to this post:

Young Seann & Kurt

Young Sean Trio

Young with flowers


Young Cover

2 Comments to “A Night of the Young Masters”

  1. Claire Lango says:

    I hope you will keep updating your content constantly as you have one dedicated reader here.

  2. Hi and thanks for this write-up. I am a massive fan of anything guitar/music connected and relish the majority of the articles I am able to find about them. Kind regards