BERKELEY -- The Young People's Symphony Orchestra will share the talents of two soloists -- Ellie Kanayama on violin and Rachel Adams on flute -- at its May 3-4 concerts, which will be held at the El Cerrito Performing Arts Center.
The Berkeley-based group, which includes 100 young musicians from around the Bay Area, will play Berlioz's overture to "Le Corsaire," the first movement of Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto in E Minor," Reinecke's "Ballade for Flute and Orchestra," and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 10."
Each season, YPSO lets musicians compete for the chance to play one movement of a concerto at a regular concert. Music director and conductor David Ramadanoff judged the most recent contest, along with violist and conductor Rem Djemilev, the YPSO's music director, and Monica Scott, a cellist and private cello teacher. They selected Kanayama and Adams, as well as three other musicians, who performed during the orchestra's concert in February.
Kanayama, 14, attends the Crowden School in Berkeley. She began playing violin at age 5 in Japan and is in her second year with YPSO. Last year, she performed in Washington D.C., and participated in several chamber music master classes that included Yo-Yo Ma.
"I feel excited and honored to play with the orchestra," Kanayama said. "This is the first time for me to be a soloist with the full orchestra, and I am really looking forward to the spring concerts."
Mendelssohn's concerto is quite difficult, the eighth-grade violinist said.
"But the melody is very beautiful, warm and romantic. I like it a lot," Kanayama said.
Adams, 17, is in her third season with the youth orchestra. She first picked up the flute nine years ago and placed third in the solo division of the U.S. Open Music Competition in 2012. The junior at Head-Royce School in the Oakland hills also performed at the Junior Bach Festival in 2012 and 2013.
Reinecke's piece "is romantic and lyrical," Adams said. "It has lots of great melodies and fast technical passages in the middle that are fun to play."
The piece "starts out sad and mournful, but then moves into sections that are sparkly and feel like something out of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' also by Mendelssohn," she said. "There are parts in the middle that are passionate and love themed, and then the ending is pretty and gentle, like a lullaby."
The group's final piece of the two spring concerts is Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 10 in E Minor," which he composed in the early 1950s before and near the period of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin death.
Shostakovich "was writing about his time, it had to be accessible, but he was always mindful of his oppressors. It's very reflective of his times and how beaten down he was," said Ramadanoff, who has been with the group for 25 seasons.
The YPSO, which will tour New York and Boston in June, plans to play a movement from Shostakovich's 10th Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Its East Bay members include three musicians from Alameda, eight from Albany, seven from Berkeley, one from El Cerrito, 12 from Oakland and five from Piedmont.
What: YPSO Spring Concert
When: 8 p.m. May 3; 3 p.m. May 4
Where: 740 Ashbury Ave. in El Cerrito
Cost: $10 to $14
Information: 510-849-9776, www.ypsomusic.net