The program for the second of the Mancini Institute’s summer concerts ran the youth orchestra through a wild host of styles, from contemporary composition to film music to a swinging jazz-classical marriage that featured Christian McBride, the stalwart bassist not that much older than his backing musicians. Band deserved a standing O at every turn.
McBride, performing John Clayton’s endearing Ray Brown Suite, is so melodically skillful that in his hands, the string bass seems like a natural for the lead spot in orchestral compositions. His playing — a combination of improvisation and written score — was consistently swinging and tonally rich and consistent with Brown’s steady style.
Film composer Bruce Broughton led the troupe through his brisk Western overture for “Silverado” and his Christmas-themed “Miracle on 34th Street,” with each springing to life in the young orch’s hands. His “Lost in Space” music is a flatter piece that relied on the lively playing of the 80-member orch to give it an engaging depth.
Afternoon show began with conductor Peter Boyer’s jubilant “Celebration Overture” and an Aaron Copland romp before feeding into Michael Abene’s “Heritage-New/Old & Then Some” that featured Dave Taylor on bass trombone.
Under Justin DiCioccio’s direction, the orchestra went every which way in this American Jazz Philharmonic commission as Taylor moved from dark to light and back again with a series of wild and improbable improvisations.
Orch is made up of 80 youths on full scholarship to the month-long summer education program that music director Jack Elliott, in the program notes, says is there for the youngsters who want a life in music. Rarely will they be challenged in one afternoon the way they were Sunday, making this day’s show an extra-special success.
The Mancini Orchestra series at Royce continues Friday with guest fiddler Mark O’Connor and Saturday with O’Connor and Brazilian guitarist Dori Caymmi.