The Beijing Juvenile Symphony Orchestra is filled with serious, highly skilled musicians who just happen to be ages 8 to 11.
The children are the top students from the prestigious Zhongguancun No. 2 Primary School. They will show off their skills in a series of free concerts over the next few days in Stanislaus County.
The orchestra's highlight event is a free show Saturday night at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto. The ensemble plans to play a mix of Chinese and European compositions and selections from musicals, including "The Sound of Music."
"It will be a big surprise for an American audience," said Jing Sun, who is organizing the Beijing Juvenile Symphony Orchestra's appearances. "They're performing professional music for professional adults. They're playing better music than some adults play."
The group also will perform at 9:30 a.m. today at the opening ceremony for the Beacon-California State University, Stanislaus, International Music Festival at Snider Hall, 1 University Circle, Turlock, and at 10 a.m. Sunday for the event's closing ceremony. In addition, the orchestra plans to play Monday at 7:05 p.m. at the Modesto Nuts game at John Thurman Field, 601 Neece Drive.
The Beijing Juvenile Symphony Orchestra is under the direction of Fengde Liu, who visited Modesto last year with another orchestra. He helped coordinate an exchange with members of the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Sun said.
Sun said the youth orchestra is competitive, with students required to audition to participate. "The parents are highly educated and they have a high expectation for the children," she said. "Chinese children are very hard workers."
Founded in 1995, the Beijing Juvenile Symphony Orchestra has won many awards, including first prize in the Vienna 37th International Youth Music Festival in the symphony orchestra category. The group has performed in South Korea, North Korea, France, Macao and Hong Kong.
WHAT: Beijing Juvenile Symphony Orchestra
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Foster Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100