UPBEAT (Fall 2007)

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Fall 2007






UPBEAT is published quarterly by the Youth Orchestra Division of the American Symphony Orchestra League, the nonprofit service and educational organization dedicated to the development of American symphony orchestras and to the cultural vitality of the communities they serve.

Register now for the YOD - Education & Community Engagement Mid-Winter Meeting!


LET'S TALK -- Youth Orchestra E-Mail Discussion Group



Dear YOD Colleagues:

Thank you for taking the time to read the Fall edition of Upbeat, the quarterly online newsletter from the Youth Orchestra Division of the American Symphony Orchestra League.

This is the last issue that includes a report from our liaison to the League, Jill Kendall, as she will be leaving the ASOL later this month. Our loss is most certainly someone else's gain! We'll miss you, Jill!

We extend a warm welcome to our new liaison Jeanette Wong and look forward to getting to know her and working with her.

I am very pleased to welcome Kristen Wesloh, Director of Development and Marketing for the Minnesota Youth Symphonies, as my assistant editor. Kristen has already used her editing skills in paring down some of the more verbose submissions to Orchestra Notes!

Not every edition of Upbeat includes a feature article, but this one does, a fascinating account of what happens when a classical music group and a rock band join forces. Could this be a model for other youth orchestras? Or perhaps rock bands are the ones that need a model?

Best wishes for a fantastic 2007-08 season!

Craig Johnson
Upbeat Editor
Executive Director, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra


Dear Friends:

I hope you are well, and that you had a productive, yet restful, summer.

It is with mixed emotions that I say goodbye to Jill Kendall. Jill has been one of our strongest champions within the League. She has managed all of the YOD's affairs with professionalism, enthusiasm, and tenacity. She has also been a tremendous assistance to me as Chair of YOD. I will miss her and I am sad to see her leave. However, I hope you will join me in wishing her well under the joyous circumstances under which she leaves. Jill, on behalf of the entire Youth Orchestra Division, we wish you all the joy and happiness that you deserve. Break a leg!

As we begin the new season, I hope you will find time in your busy schedule to be involved with the Youth Orchestra Division. Our committees will be up and running, and your participation is welcome. We've already begun planning for Mid-Winter Meeting of the Youth Orchestra Division and the Education and Community Engagement constituency. As the previous two years, our time together should prove to be insightful and educationally rewarding. I hope you will join us in Detroit, Michigan from February 21 - 23, 2008.

Also, I encourage you to mark your calendar and make the necessary plans to join us in Denver, Colorado, June 10 - 14, 2008, for the League's National Conference as part of the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention. If you'd like to participate on the Conference Planning Committee, please contact me for more information.

Thank you for your continued good work in the youth orchestra field. I wish you well with your new season of music making with the next generation of musical leaders and professionals.

Best regards,

Louis Scaglione
Chair, Youth Orchestra Division
President and Music Director, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra


Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Lollapalooza

On August 5, 2007 the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) became the first orchestra to perform at the world-famous Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park, Chicago. This project was the result of an on-going collaboration between the CYSO and the rock group My Morning Jacket (MMJ).

Wearing full sets of purple scrubs, CYSO members played in front of a candy shop background, while the band donned their best formal wear, electric purple tuxedos.

This is the second time that the two groups have played together. Last November the CYSO performed an encore set with My Morning Jacket at Chicago's Riviera Theater to thunderous applause. "[They CYSO] contacted us after they heard about the Boston Pops show," MMJ guitarist Carl Broemel told Billboard.com of the CYSO. "The really cool thing is that the Boston Pops gave us the scores for the arrangements we played, so we were able to play them again in Chicago. This time, when we got the offer to do Lollapalooza, we decided we wanted to ask them and do some other songs." When talking about how the band enjoys working with orchestras, Broemel says that My Morning Jacket is always open to "including people who would have a good time playing with us. We just want to have interesting things happen."

Another aspect of this collaboration was the creation of a new multimedia experience for Current TV. The project called "All Eyes on My Morning Jacket" asked that all audience members record the band and CYSO during the song Gideon and then upload the results to the internet for the creation of a music video. Current TV previously did a similar project with The Shins for their song Phantom Limb. Before the set, creator of the festival Perry Ferrell, announced to the sea of fans that the performance was "...one of the greatest collaborations of all time at Lollapalooza" and then asked them to turn on their cell phones, cameras, and video cameras and start filming. (Check out http://www.current.tv/make/vc2/mymorningjacket for more information.)

Orchestra members and fans, David Schumm and Betsy Welander, had the opportunity to interview the band before the performance for ABC News The Mix. They were both thrilled at the opportunity to talk to the band about their music and why they invited CYSO to play with them at the festival. "Our normal picture [of music] is blown up and it adds depth to the performance and allows us to keep progressing" said lead singer Jim James of the collaboration. MMJ also turned the mikes on the students to hear what they thought of the experience. CYSO musician David Schumm stated, "Everyone dreams they are a rock star, but this experience for us has also been about learning how music can come together." (See the full interview at: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=3507562.)

Of the festival, vocalist Jim James said, "The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra! It is hard to even think of them as ‘youth.' Their playing is so ‘grown-up' and professional. They hit with diamond-like precision. ‘Pow!' As a touring rock band you kind of turn into this well-oiled machine," James said. "It's really exciting to feel that scared, nervous energy again."

For the members of the CYSO who performed that day this was an exhilarating and challenging experience that took their playing to a new level. Lollapalooza was one of the largest audiences CYSO has ever seen, with a crowd of nearly 80,000 people.

Bravo, CYSO!



The Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program Board of Directors announced that Gabriel Gordon was chosen as Conductor for the 2007-2008 season. Mr. Gordon succeeds Amir Kats who led AYS for the past five seasons. Mr. Gordon was chosen from among twenty-eight applicants, and auditioned for an orchestra of AYS members and alumni. Originally from New York City, Gabriel Gordon graduated from the Performing Arts School. He served as Music Director of the Greater Newark Youth Orchestra, the New Jersey State Youth Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra at Tower Hill, and was a founding member of the DaPonte String Quartet. He is currently a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and a concertmaster finalist for the Santa Fe Symphony.

The California Youth Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Leo Eylar, begins its 56th season with two November concerts featuring 16-year-old CYS Young Artist Competition winner Angela Hwang as piano soloist. She has been honored in numerous competitions, including the International Russian Music Competition, the Marilyn Mindell Piano Competition, and the Music Teachers' Association of California Concerto Competition. This season will culminate with the orchestra's summer tour to Japan and Korea. This will be the CYS's third visit to Japan and first appearance in Korea, co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Hiroshima, Okayama Junior Orchestra, and Nada Center in Korea. In addition to five CYS concerts, an array of cultural exchange activities will take place. A CYS "Bon Voyage" concert, previewing music from the tour, is planned for June 22, 2008 at Spangenburg Theatre in Palo Alto.

The Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra toured Italy in June, playing concerts in churches and other venues in the cities of Venice, Florence and Rome. Led by Music Director Julien Benichou and Flute Ensemble Director Gail Vehslage, the group also enjoyed sightseeing during the 10-day tour. Speaking Italian and French, Mr. Benichou announced all the concerts in both languages. This season, the CYSO hosted a masterclass with National Symphony Orchestra Maestro Leonard Slatkin, who came to Annapolis to work with the orchestra on October 15. CYSO is a 200-member group of students in one of seven ensembles: Preparatory Strings, Strings, Concert Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphony, and Junior and Senior Flute Ensembles.

The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras begin their 2007-2008 season with performances at the Chicago Cultural Center, Roosevelt University and Symphony Center. They recently returned from their European Tour filled with performances at internationally renowned locations including Leipzig's Gewandhaus. One highlight of this season is the Orchestra Hall concert on November 11, 2007 that will feature tragedy and triumph as the orchestra performs a thrilling combination of classics and new compositions, highlighted by the World Premiere performance Daren Hagen's Orpheus and Eurydice with special guests the Amelia Trio, and Richard Strauss's Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome. Also included in the program is Hector Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture, Samuel Barber's Medea's Dance of Vengeance and Ottorino Respighi's The Fountains of Rome.

Jayce Ogren, in his second season as music director, has announced details of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra's 2007-08 season. Highlights of the series include a side-by-side performance with The Cleveland Orchestra, and the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by Alexandra Bryant. The Youth Orchestra will perform works by a variety of composers, including Mahler, Ravel, Schubert, Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky, and Vaughn Williams. Other highlights include performances with the winner of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, and community performances with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus.

The Connecticut Youth Symphony and the Greater New Haven Youth Orchestra will perform a joint concert in December at Lincoln Theatre on the campus of the University of Hartford. This concert is the first cooperative effort of its kind between The Hartt Community Division and The Neighborhood Music School. Katherine M. Kilburn is the Music Director of the Greater Hew Haven Youth Orchestra and Daniel D'Addio is the Music Director of the Connecticut Youth Symphony.

For its 30th Anniversary, Denver Young Artists Orchestra has commissioned a work by composer Belinda Reynolds specifically written for and inspired by its orchestra. The work, titled Thirty by 5 x 8, will be premiered on DYAO's 30th Anniversary concert on January 13, 2008. Alumni of the orchestra have been invited to perform side-by-side on stage with the current orchestra to help premiere the new piece. The commission and world premiere is part of a two-week composer residency that DYAO was awarded this year from "Music Alive", a program created by Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League to help partner orchestras with composers and forward new music. DYAO also recently completed a concert tour of Argentina in June 2007. The orchestra performed three concerts in Rosario, La Plata, and Buenos Aires.

The Empire State Youth Orchestra has asked local artists to submit a sketch to reflect ESYO's March 2008 New Music for a New Generation festival, funded in part with a grant from the NYS Music Fund. The winning entry will be incorporated into a poster and may also be used to identify the festival in other publicity materials. ESYO also plans to auction the original poster, signed by the artist, as a fundraiser during the festival. To help support its Youth Orchestra's April 2008 European Tour, ESYO is holding a champagne brunch prior to its November concert. Donations received from corporate sponsors and an honorary committee have exceeded our goal of $30,000. The funds raised will be used to offset the price of each musician's travel costs.

After over 1,200 auditions, Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras has placed 390 musicians into its 5 orchestras and Harp Ensemble. David Levin will conduct the Philharmonic, as well as holding the title of Director of Education. The Symphony will be conducted by Scott Herman, while Chris Allen will conduct the Young Artists. Under the baton of conductor Pablo Saelzer, Sinfonia may expand by adding pairs of wind players. Astrid Walschot-Stapp will conduct the Harp Ensemble and Chamber Strings will continue to be conducted by Jennifer Van Petten. Our collaborations with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will continue, with another series of master classes, beginning with Principal Oboist Katherine Needleman, in October.

The Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra's first concert of the season will feature Sandra and Bruce Dudley and Friends on November 13, 2007 in Hinton Hall on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University. Sandra is a versatile singer that has entertained audiences for more than two decades. She has been on the faculty of St. Francis Xavier University in Canada and University of Houston. She is currently Assistant Professor of Commercial Voice at Belmont University in Nashville and is on the faculty at the Nashville Jazz Workshop. The orchestra will play arrangements by Bruce Dudley and Jeff Steinberg: Nice Work If You Can Get It, Misty, and How High the Moon. Other musicians will include Jamey Simmons on trumpet, Don Aliquo on saxophone, drummer Tom Giampietro, and Jim Ferguson on bass.

The Oklahoma Youth Orchestra will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special concert on November 11, 2007. The concert will take place at the Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall, beginning at 3:30. Alumni are being invited to play on the concert with current OYO members. From the one orchestra in 1977, the program has grown to eight ensembles and 300 students. This past summer, the OYO undertook a concert tour of Central Europe, visiting Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, under the direction of Louis Scaglione, traveled to Brazil, South America this summer. The PYO performed six concerts to sold-out halls in São Paulo, São José dos Campos, Santos, Petropolis, two performances at the Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro.

The Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Youth Symphony of Kansas City will continue "Music across Missouri", a two-year festival, on Sunday, October 21, at Powell Hall in St. Louis. The Music Director and Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson, will conduct the two orchestras together in The Pines of Rome. The St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by Music Director and Conductor Scott Parkman, and the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, led by Music Director and Conductor Steven D. Davis, will perform separately.

This summer, the Vermont Youth Orchestra completed a successful two-week tour of China. VYO Music Director Troy Peters led the orchestra in performances at major halls in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Hong Kong. The orchestra performed recognizable American and European compositions along with traditional Chinese pieces. VYO students also participated in exchanges with Chinese students, culminating in a side-by-side performance with the Hong Kong Youth Symphony before a nearly sold-out audience at the Kwai Tsing Theatre. The orchestra was joined by Phillip Ying, violist for the Ying Quartet, performing Bruch's Romance and Bloch's Suite Hébraïque. A multi-media chronicle of the tour was documented by VYO students through The China Project as part of the Young Writers Project. "Planning a concert tour for 126 people was a huge undertaking," states VYOA Executive Director Caroline Whiddon. "It was indeed the trip of a lifetime for the students of the VYO."



YOD Update

Dear Youth Orchestra Division,

The League team has been hard at work planning our joint Mid-Winter gathering with the Education/Community Relations constituency. The meeting will take place on February 21-23 in Detroit, MI, and will be hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Topics to be covered include unleashing the power of parent support, diversity initiatives through strategic partnerships, parents as advocates, achieving civic stature, and many other topics. We will also have the opportunity to attend a performance of the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Boys Choir, and to have a luncheon discussion with conductor Thom Wilkins. This is a wonderful opportunity for members of the Youth Orchestra Division to come together with our (adult) orchestra education/community engagement colleagues, to discuss some of the big issues that the field is facing, as well as engaging in some planning for the League's 2008 National Conference and the second National Performing Arts Convention. Be sure to keep your eye on our website at http://www.symphony.org/midyear/ as more information becomes available. We hope you will join us in Detroit!

After three and a half wonderful years of working with the Youth Orchestra Division and the League's Learning and Leadership Development department, the time has come for me to move on. Though I am sad to announce this, I also have the honor of introducing the woman who will take over for me in working with the YOD and the Learning and Leadership Development department. After October 19th, Jeanette Wong will by your new liaison. Some of you may have met Jeanette before, as she used to be a critical link in our Member Services department. Jeanette is originally from San Francisco, and is an active composer and musician. I'm sure you will all love working with Jeanette as much as I have. You can reach Jeanette at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or (646)822-4019.

Finally, I want to thank you all for the kindness and friendship you have shown me over the years. It has been such an honor to work with you all. The service, leadership, and care you have for one another, the field at large, and all the wonderful students you work with has been so inspiring to experience. Please keep up the good work, and I wish you all the success in the future.

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable fall! If you have any questions or if I can be of any assistance, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Jill Kendall
Youth Orchestra Division Liaison
American Symphony Orchestra League


League Develops Diagnostic Tool around "Achieving Civic Stature"

As many of you know, the League has now completed a two-year-long strategic planning process, which will drive the work of the League - on behalf of our member orchestras - for the next several years. Three large themes have emerged, around which our work revolves:

-Modeling the Future (encouraging receptivity to new ideas)
-Common Cause (ensuring healthy internal relationships among orchestra stakeholders)
-Civic Stature (reinforcing the orchestra's role as a vital community resource)

As one component of our work on the topic of Civic Stature, we are in the process of developing a diagnostic self-assessment tool, which orchestras will be able to use to take a look at their own strengths and challenges in this area. We introduced this project via an Orchestra Leadership Academy seminar at the National Conference last June (working with more than 30 orchestra representatives) and then via a two-day task force with another 15 industry representatives in September. Education, community, and youth orchestra personnel participated in both phases of this work. We are currently field-testing the draft with the task force members, and our goal is to continue to refine the tool, introducing it to the field late next spring.

And here's where you come in: At the Youth Orchestra / Education Community Engagement Mid-Winter meeting in Detroit in February, we will take a couple of hours to "workshop" this tool with you - asking you to serve as a focus group to respond to the work to date. As youth orchestra leaders you are central and key to the mission of orchestras around "Achieving Civic Stature", and we need your perspective!

Please feel free to be in touch with me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) if you want more detailed information. In the meantime, we're looking forward to your contributions in February. See you in Detroit, February 21-23!

Polly Kahn
Vice President, Learning and Leadership Development