The Manawatū Youth Orchestra reaches the grand age of 60 this year. To celebrate, it invites the public to its concert this Saturday afternoon with guest soloists from the New Zealand School of Music.
Some of the music is enthusiastic, loud and exciting as befits a youth orchestra celebration.
"Everyone will recognise Borodin's Polovtsian Dances," orchestra conductor Isaac Henderson says.
But the highlight of the afternoon will be the arias and duet sung by up-and-coming singers, soprano Shaunagh Chambers and baritone Tomairangi Henare from Victoria University of Wellington.
They may be youthful but they already have a wealth of experience under their belts. Chambers, an honours-year student, has already sung solos with the Hamilton Civic Choir while still at school and will feature with the Wellington Bach Choir next month.
Henare, a third-year student, regularly performs as part of the vocal quartet Tokowhaa.
"I just love to perform," he says. "I was always an extremely loud kid, so I would always participate in church choirs and kapahaka as a way to expel the energy I had. My whānau in Nuhaka were always super encouraging to me. When I'm singing on stage I feel like I can be whatever I want to be while still maintaining that sense of honesty."
Together they sing Come paride vezzoso from Donizetti's The Elixir of Love. Henare loves this piece of musical comedy.
"I'm after the soprano, giving her flowers and generally bragging about how awesome I am at life! It's a song that is just fun; fun for me, the audience, and the orchestra. There's just so much hearty energy that can be put into it," he says.
Henderson says a youth orchestra provides a great experience for young people to play great music together. "We wanted to share the orchestral experience with young soloists."
The youth orchestra exists for young people first and foremost to have fun making music together. But the orchestra has also been the launchpad for more than a few musical careers, with more than a few singers in the ranks. Renowned soprano Anna Lees was for a time at the back of the second violins.
Some have gone on to careers with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, while others have found positions with American, British and European orchestras. The orchestra can also claim the late timpanist and renowned conductor Gary Brain as a founding member.
"Let's see what the next 60 years bring," Henderson says.
What: Manawatū Youth Orchestra June Concert
When: Saturday, June 19, 2.30pm
Where: Speirs Centre
Tickets: eventfinda.co.nz or at the door