Four of the top students from the 2009/10 Tucson Symphony Orchestra's Young Artists Competition perform with the symphony at the annual Celebrate the Future concert on Friday, May 7.

The 8 p.m. performance is led by George Hanson, TSO music director and conductor. The show is free, and all seats are general admission. Donations for the concert and other TSO education and youth programs are welcome at the door.

Hanson and the TSO are performing two works by students from the TSO's Young Composers Project.

Chosen compositions by Young Composers Project students this year are "Viaggio" by Ben Nead and "Kingdom of the Sacred Temple" by Alexander Garcia. Nead, currently in the eighth grade at Miles Exploratory Learning Center, is also a cellist and recently performed in China as the youngest member of the Southern Arizona Symphony Orchestra. Garcia, a freshman at Desert View High School, was previously awarded The Sunnyside Unified School District Excellence Certificate for his achievement in a piece that he wrote for a middle school theme song.

Along with those two works, Celebrate the Future includes "Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla" by Mikhail Glinka and concludes with Antonín Dvořák's "Carnival Overture."

Celebrate the Future performers are Sara Page, cello, who will perform "Hungarian Rhapsody" by David Popper; Carissa Powe, violin, who will perform a concerto by Jean Batiste Accolay; Jonathan Wintringham, alto sax, playing the "Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra" by Henri Fredien Tomasi; and Ilia Ulianitsky, piano, performing a movement from Beethoven's Concerto No. 5, "Emperor."

The Young Artists Competition is unique because it is the only competition in the region where the winner may have a chance to perform with a professional symphonic orchestra.

TSO's Young Composers Project provides a living laboratory for elementary through high school aged students to learn to compose music for orchestra. Yo-Yo Ma met with 14 of the students in this year's class when he performed with the TSO in December.

"In all my years of working with symphony orchestras, I have never encountered such an extraordinary program," Ma said later.

Ilona Vukovic-Gay, TSO assistant principal viola, who has been the Young Composers Project instructor for the past four years, describes the weekly class as "painting with sound." The class begins with basic theory and compositional techniques followed by improvisation with other members of the class. This helps the student practice theoretical skills and share musical ideas.

The 2010 Celebrate the Future Concert is sponsored by Oro Valley resident Dorothy D. Vanek.

Celebrate the Future follows a "rockin' downtown block party" hosted by Tucson Values Teachers to celebrate teachers and the conclusion of National Teachers Week. From 5 to 7:30 that Friday, Toole Avenue at Congress is closed for DJs, vendors, free apple juice and cupcakes and live music by mini-mariachis, marching bands, steel bands and a performance by the TSO's Student String Quartet on the main stage, followed by remarks from Hanson. Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup leads a toast to teachers before celebrants head to the Tucson Music Hall for the Celebrate the Future concert.

"Celebrate the Future"

Friday, May 7, 8 p.m., Tucson Music Hall

Follows the Tucson Values Teachers' "Toast the Teachers" downtown block party

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