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SALUTE TO YOUTH: WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN TUESDAY, STARS WILL SHINE AT ABRAVANEL HALL.

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You've probably seen the ads for this week's Utah Symphony-Deseret News "Salute to Youth" concert - "When the sun goes down, eight new stars will shine."

It's a clever line. But in fact only seven of this year's stars are new, one of them having shone on a previous "Salute to Youth." That is Cate Cannon Todd, who first performed on this annual Thanksgiving-week program in 1991, when she soloed in Saint-Saens' "Morceau de Concert" for harp and orchestra.Back then, Cate was 19, unmarried and had just been named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, earning her a solo at the Kennedy Center. Now, five years later, she has a degree from the University of Utah, a husband, an 8-month-old son and fond memories of her first "Salute to Youth."

"It was pure excitement," the ShruDeLi Ownby student says of that initial outing, her first performance with a major orchestra. "I enjoyed every moment on that stage." But though she expects that in some ways that experience will make her more relaxed this time, in others "I'll probably be more nervous because I have something to live up to."

This year's concert, to take place Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m. at Abravanel Hall, will feature Cate in the final movement of Rodrigo's "Concierto Serenata." Associate Utah Symphony conductor Robert Henderson will conduct the orchestra, as he will for the other seven soloists.

Among them, the other end of the age spectrum is represented by 9-year-old Jessica Weiss of Orem - with whom, as it happens, Cate shares a birthday, Nov. 16.

Even so, Jessica has been playing piano for five years and already has a performance with the Utah Valley Symphony to her credit, in the same piece she will be soloing in Tuesday, the opening movement of Bach's Concerto in F minor.

"I don't remember it," the Irene Peery pupil says, "but my mom says when I was little we would go hear some of my teacher's other students perform with the Utah Symphony, and I would ask, `When am I going to be able to play on `Salute to Youth'?"

It's also interesting to hear this Vineyard Elementary School fourth-grader's seasoned attitude toward nervousness.

"When I first got up in the rehearsal, I felt a tingly feeling down my body," Jessica says. "But then in the actual performance I didn't feel that. But you always have to be a little bit scared, or you'll think, `Oh, this is really easy,' and you'll stop working hard."

Another hard-working Irene Peery protege is 11-year-old Ryan Michael Brown of Alpine, who will be heard Tuesday in the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 1 of Robert Muczynski. And he is another performer who got his first taste of "Salute to Youth" as a member of the audience.

"I remember thinking when my brother Gregory played in 1992, `Oh my gosh - cool,' Ryan says. "But I didn't think I was good enough."

Obviously the standards are high in a family in which all four of Ryan's siblings play the piano. (His sisters Deondra and Desirae have already performed twice with the Intermountain Chamber Orchestra.) But he's good enough to have been a finalist in last year's International Stravinsky Awards and just completed his third solo outing with the Utah Valley Symphony.

When it comes to the Muczynski concerto, he says his favorite parts are the stormier sections - appropriate for a pianist who says he wouldn't mind being a TV weatherman.

Someone else for whom piano genes apparently run in the family is 13-year-old Jonathan Coombs, whose sister Hilary is also a former "Salute to Youth" soloist - like Cate, from 1991.

"I was sitting there that night and one of my big goals was to be able to play with a major orchestra like that," Jonathan recalls. He attained that goal last April, when he soloed with the Utah Symphony as one of its Youth Guild Competition winners and says the orchestra members did a lot to put him at ease.

"They all talked to me and helped me to be calm. And I had gone through the piece before the concert with the conductor, Kory Katseanes, so I knew what it was going to be like."

The piece he will be playing Tuesday, the finale from Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto in G minor, he says was his choice. "My sister was playing a Mendelssohn concerto, and I listened to the CD and told my teacher, Gary Amano, that I liked it."

The evening's other Jonathan, 16-year-old Jonathan Lee, is also a Gary Amano student, only he will be soloing in the first movement of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor.

"My parents were both born in Korea," the Skyline High School junior relates, "and it was their idea that I take piano lessons. I was kind of dumbfounded," he recalls, "because I'd expressed no interest in music, especially classical music."

That interest grew so rapidly, however, that within a short time Jonathan was moving ahead in his piano books, "playing pieces I wasn't supposed to practice." It can't have been too detrimental, though, because within a year of his family moving to Utah he earned an honorable mention in the 1996 Junior Gina Bachauer Competition and last weekend took first in high-school piano in the Music Teachers National Association state competition.

Still, "Salute to Youth" will mark his first time soloing with an orchestra, something he says he feels "quite privileged" to be able to do.

By contrast, violinist Heidi Sorenson, 20, has had a lot of performing experience with groups as diverse as her own Firebird Quartet and Peter Breinholt's Big Parade. Were that not enough, she also serves as piano accompanist for the opera program at Brigham Young University, where her violin teachers have included Igor Gruppman and Barbara Williams.

"That's how I started, as a pianist," the Timpview High graduate recalls. "Then two years later my mom found a violin in a garage sale."

The first violinist Heidi remembers hearing was Itzhak Perlman, when in 1983 he soloed with the Utah Symphony - just as she will be doing this Tuesday.

"I was mesmerized," she says of that performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto. "I mean the picture he created for me onstage, and the drama. I was amazed anyone could play that fast, especially when I was 7 years old and working on `Twinkle, Twinkle.' "

What she's playing this week is a long way from that - the Bartok First Rhapsody, a virtuoso showpiece she says "fits my style." And finally getting the chance to do it with the Utah Symphony? "I just love it and wish it would never end."

South Jordan's Michael Chipman has also been looking forward to this opportunity, though just last month he got to perform for an even bigger audience as the baritone soloist in the Mormon Youth Chorus and Symphony's presentation of the Faure Requiem.

Tuesday he tries his hand at opera, specifically the aria "Non piu andrai" from Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." "I was in Utah Festival Opera's `Magic Flute' two summers ago," the 24-year-old Utah State University senior recalls, "but that was in the chorus."

Before that, his experience was mostly confined to singing in church and in school. But his studies with Marla Volovna and Jean-Ronald LaFond helped him find his own voice.

"He just helped me find a new depth," Chipman says of LaFond, "and more clarity." His current teacher, Betty Jean Chipman - no relation - is the one he credits with helping him bring out new vocal colors.

Another performer who is quick to credit his teacher is University of Utah senior Darrin Schreiner Thiriot, 23, who studies clarinet with Utah Symphony principal Christie Lundquist.

"She saves my bacon all the time," he says of her preparation and encouragement. And if the middle name rings a bell, that's because he likewise comes from a musical family, being the great-nephew of Salt Lake Tabernacle organist Alexander Schreiner.

So what drew him to a less ostentatious pipe?

"I think it was the shiny brass of the band instruments," Darrin says. "My grandfather used to play sax in dance bands, but it was in pretty poor shape, so my parents got me a clarinet." Since then he has played in jazz combos, community orchestras and the National Guard band, as well as soloed with the Utah Philharmonia and the Grand Junction, Colo., Symphony, whose concerto competition he won earlier this year.

Tuesday he will solo in Rossini's Introduction, Theme and Variations for Clarinet and Orchestra, a piece that dates from that composer's teenage years. And Darrin's recipe for success?

"I'm just gonna breathe deeply and concentrate on the joy of the music, rather than, `Oh, this is gonna be hard,' or `Somebody's gonna think something if I mess it.' " (Judging from his past credits, he won't.)

Nor is that the only piece on Tuesday's program written during its composer's adolescence. Chopin began his F minor Concerto when he was only 19, for example. Showing that, as is often the case in music history, it isn't just the performers who make this a "Salute to Youth."

Tickets this year - the 37th - are $8, $10, $12 and $14, with special prices for students ($6) and families ($29).

For information call 533-NOTE.