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Classical Album of the Week: Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Performs Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninoff

September 3, 2019. With the start of the 2019-2020 season just around the corner, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization will soon be celebrating a big anniversary —80 years young! To mark this milestone, as well as WRTI’s Back to School Week, we’re bringing to you the PYO 2014 live recording as our Classical Album of the Week.

Five years ago, members of the PYO stepped onto the stage of Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center, with conductor and music director, Louis Scaglione, to record the ultra-lush Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and the emotion-rich Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2.

While the Vaughan Williams is grounded in a simple Tallis hymn, the strings of the PYO ensure a spirituality with a vibrant lift and intensity.

In the massive second symphony of Rachmaninoff, the PYO has late Romanticism’s tremendous power and scale to tend with, and in this performance, the fine playing of the PYO strings is well matched by the winds’ rising to all the challenges of technique and color that Rachmaninoff throws their way.

While this recording represents nearly 100 of the Philadelphia region’s most talented young musicians, the PYO organization as a whole services six times that many, through its six programs and ensembles.

The orchestra has an extensive history of broadcasts on WRTI and of international touring, including visits to Russia, China and Brazil. The long reach of the PYO’s impact is felt in many corners of civic and artistic life — the orchestra has served as a City of Philadelphia cultural ambassador and no less than twelve PYO alumni have found positions in our very own Philadelphia Orchestra.  

WRTI is proud to have brought Philadelphia Youth Orchestra broadcasts to listeners every year since 2012. Check the WRTI website for updates about future broadcasts coming up on selected Sundays at 4 pm in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.