TAMPA — Most of what the Patel Conservatory Youth Orchestra plays is by great men from the distant past.
Sure enough, Vivaldi, Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and other immortals were all on the program Sunday afternoon at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.
But there was also music by another composer, a stylish woman who had spent the last couple of days hanging out with the musicians. Augusta Read Thomas' Dream Threads premiered Sunday and was the centerpiece of the concert.
"It was really cool how you were making changes yesterday,'' Marcela Schaefer, 17, a violinist and pianist, told Thomas, who had tweaked a percussion passage in rehearsal.
Dream Threads is a ballet score inspired by a fable about a boy named Peter, who dreams of entering a magic forest where an old lady gives him a thread that allows him to fast-forward his life. This he does, with unhappy consequences.
"The theme is patience,'' said Thomas, 44, who lives in Chicago. "We shouldn't rush our lives. We should appreciate what we have.'' The 22-minute work is full of shimmering, finely honed effects that suggest the ballets of Stravinsky. The 87-member symphony got the music in January to begin rehearsing it under conductor William Wiedrich.
Next year, Dream Threads will be performed in a staged production by the orchestra and Orlando Ballet School.
Levi Mitze, 16, the concertmaster, had many solos in Thomas' score. "It is a wee bit modern for my taste,'' he said.
"It's different than anything I've ever played,'' said violinist Joe Ginem, 17. "It's got so many tricky rhythms. It's fun.''
Ginem is a story in himself. A year ago, he was recovering from heavy-duty treatment for a virulent bone cancer that had attacked his bow arm. His shoulder ball and socket and upper arm were replaced with a titanium prosthetic. Now he's cancer-free, has shot up a couple of inches and is playing great.
"Joe is one of our shining stars,'' Wiedrich said. "Not just because of what he went through, but he's a leader. He works his butt off.''
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.