One of the hidden arts of classical music is constructing an interesting and attractive concert. To cap off its 60th season, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra has put together an alluring program of old warhorses--classical-music slang denoting those stalwarts of the concert repertory written by Dead White Guys--and almost-warhorses. A rightly revered warhorse, the Brahms Violin Concerto, features Rebecca Kim, winner of the 2002 SYSO Competition, as the soloist in this surprisingly lyrical piece. The other warhorse is a Strauss waltz, the bumptious--oh wait, all Strauss waltzes are bumptious--Tales from the Vienna Woods, which has cropped up in various cartoons and is good clean fun.

What really grabbed me was the program's inclusion of a Stravinsky opusculum, the Circus Polka, and a genuine Great American Piece by a Great American Composer, Aaron Copland's Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo (both composed in 1942). Commissioned by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for its elephant troupe, the rambunctious Circus Polka premiered just as Stravinsky's career seemed in decline. With a flotilla of relatives to support, Stravinsky rode from pillar to post in the early 1940s, accepting a strange array of commissions (including one from jazz clarinetist Woody Herman), conducting his greatest hit (The Firebird), and perpetually hunting for a lucrative movie-scoring gig that never materialized. Gloomy circumstances aside, Circus Polka's sprightly, off-kilter rhythms still conjure a smile. The ballet Rodeo proved to be Copland's zenith; the four dance episodes he extracted rank among his greatest works and embody the best of classical music: a swaggering sonic behemoth whose epic sweep gives goose bumps every time. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI

The SYSO performs Sun May 4 (Benaroya Hall, Third Ave and Union St, 362-2300), 3 pm, $7-$35.