Conductor Christian Reif leads the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra in their final concert of the season this Sunday afternoon, with a program that culminates with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. There are also works by Ligety and Faure on the program, continuing Reif’s habit of balancing better-known pieces with ones that are a little more off the beaten path.

There’s more information about the concert at the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra webpage.

“I always try to push them, I always try to challenge the Youth Orchestra in every program that we’re performing,” Reif says, “And I think the Rite of Spring is the perfect piece for that.” The ballet score, which famously led to rioting at its premiere in 1913, has long since become one of the mainstays of playing in any top-notch ensemble. “The Rite of Spring, Stravinsky’s piece, is a benchmark for any professional orchestra. And obviously, it’s a very difficult piece, but I feel every musician remembers their first Rite of Spring experience, and I’m thrilled that we’re able to perform it.” It also has passages that, for example, any timpanist auditioning for a professional position would be asked to play. “Many of the members of the Youth Orchestra end up studying music and pursuing a musical career. So for them to be able to play those pieces that will be with them for decades is a major accomplishment, and also a great thing for them to sink their teeth in this kind of repertoire.” The other works are Ligety’s Concert Românesc, which Reif describes as folky and dancelike, influenced by Bartok, and Fauré’s Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande. “The Faure is gorgeous, it’s beautiful music, it’s something where we can work on more of the colors of the orchestra, more of the atmosphere, the… sound of the orchestra.”