UPBEAT (Spring 2008)

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Spring 2008






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

As my term on the YOD Board is about to expire, it is time to turn over the reins as Upbeat Editor to a willing successor. We are very fortunate to have an eager volunteer waiting in the wings, so to speak: Kristen Wesloh, Director of Development and Marketing for the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. Thank you, Kristen, for stepping forward! 

Although it may seem a bit premature, I am going to say my farewells now, since I cannot attend the conference this year (I will be on tour with my orchestra in China) and the next edition of Upbeat will not appear until July, which is after my term expires in June. 

I have truly enjoyed serving as Editor of Upbeat, seeing the transition into an improved electronic format, and helping it grow from two to four editions per year. 

I have enjoyed working with such dedicated and knowledgeable colleagues, who, through your submissions to Upbeat, serve as an inspiration to us all in the youth orchestra field. It has been a pleasure! 

Craig Johnson
Upbeat Editor – Youth Orchestra Division
Executive Director – Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra


Dear Youth Orchestra Colleagues, 

I invite you to attend the League’s 63rd National Conference, June 10 – 14, 2008, in Denver, Colorado. This year, the setting is different, as we have aligned with a wider group of arts professionals by joining forces with the National Performing Arts Convention. However, you will find all the important meetings and content you have come to expect from our Conference 

Last year was one of the most successful conferences we have ever held. This year, we have built on that energy to design meeting content that will be especially relevant to you and your colleagues. Topics and speakers for Youth Orchestra Division’s meetings include: 

The Big Thought consortium in Dallas is an outstanding example of a city-wide consortium that has had a major impact on the status of arts education in an entire community. And, as our orchestras have made the League’s “Statement of Common Cause in Support of In-School Music Education” their own, we are seeing outstanding examples of local partnerships on behalf of arts education. Hear about some highly effective models. 


José Antonio Abreu is the visionary behind El Sistema—Venezuela’s unique social movement built on a system of life-long investment in classical music. Join with executive directors, conductors, musicians, and your education/community engagement colleagues to hear from Abreu about his vision and his challenge to youth orchestras in the U.S.

EL SISTEMA - IMPLICATIONS FOR THE YOUTH ORCHESTRA FIELD IN THE UNITED STATES The El Sistema “phenomenon” has taken the U.S. by storm, inspiring multiple projects around the country. What does this new attention mean, and what does El Sistema suggest for youth orchestras in the United States?  

Pre-Conference Training  

General Sessions

  • The Power of Community Building, hosted by Anna Deavere Smith;
  • From Good to Great in the Social Sector, with best-selling author and management guru Jim Collins;
  • Radical Ideas from Beyond the Border, which features three visionary leaders including José Antonio Abreu, founder of the extraordinary Venezuelan music-education program El Sistema;
  • A 21st Century Town Meeting™ preceded by three caucuses in which every delegate will be asked to speak up about what matters most to them on the future of the arts. Saturday’s meeting will give everyone a chance to vote on an agenda for the performing arts community, laying the groundwork for effective, coordinated action at the local and national level. 

Workshops and Breakouts
On Thursday you will be able to select one or two of over 40 breakout sessions, workshops, or art-making workshops, featuring professionals from all over the world of the arts.  

Take in a delightful performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the CSO Chorus, conducted by music director Jeffrey Kahane and chorus director Duain Wolf, in a program of works by Corigliano, Copland, and Bernstein. Hear a resounding performance of John Adams’s Nixon in China conducted by Marin Alsop at Opera Colorado. Or take in one of the dozens of other programs being offered by Denver’s arts community. 

At the 63rd National Conference, you will find educationally and professionally enriching content for you, your staff, and board members. Again, I invite and encourage you to make every effort to attend. The mountain views are beautiful, the company is outstanding, and the learning and networking will be priceless. Connect with colleagues, share ideas, learn from experts, spend a little time laughing, and recharge the batteries. I look forward to seeing you in Denver.

Best wishes, 

Louis Scaglione
Chairman – Youth Orchestra Division
President and Music Director – Philadelphia Youth Orchestra


Spring 2008 will bring two very exciting collaborations to the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. CYSO has been asked by the Ravinia Festival to perform the Illinois premiere of Ricardo Lorenz’s Rumba Sinfonica with Tiempo Libre. This “Latin Dance Night” performance on May 31, which also includes Luna Negra Dance Theater, is sure to be a captivating event. Also, on May 11, over 200 musicians from both the CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra and Concert Orchestra will appear on stage together at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall for a spectacular joint performance of Finlandia by Sibelius. The Chicago Children’s Choir will join the Symphony Orchestra for Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe: Suite No. 2.  

Empire State Youth Orchestra’s New Music for a New Generation Festival on March 8 featured a family concert with the Magic Circle Mime Company, eight workshops on a variety of musical topics, a lecture by composer Samuel Adler, a reception, and an evening concert. The festival grew out of a commissioning project funded by a $100,000 grant from the New York State Music Fund. ESYO commissioned nine works—one for each of its performing ensembles. The composers, including Dr. Adler, participated in pre-festival rehearsals, led workshops, and introduced their music at the evening concert. An eclectic program of percussion, jazz, and orchestral music was performed to a sold-out house during the evening concert. Dr. Adler will accompany ESYO’s Youth Orchestra on its European tour in April, where it will premiere Adler’s piece in three European cities. 

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras’ March concert was dedicated to music teachers, including MCYO coaches, private teachers, and Montgomery County Pubic School and other school music educators. The Sinfonia, conducted by Pablo Saelzer, included a performance by soprano Marilyn Moore. A specially-formed Chamber Ensemble, under the direction of manager Kristopher Sanz, performed with composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR). National Symphony Orchestra Maestro Leonard Slatkin will conduct an open rehearsal in April. Also on the forefront are more master classes conduced by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra principal players and several community outreach programs prior to their final concert on May 21. 

Community leaders, corporations, and educators are joining forces to launch a major community initiative aimed at enabling more children from families in need to benefit from the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s core ensembles and community partnership programs. The new initiative will be called Fran’s Fund in honor of Fran Richman, who is celebrating her 20th anniversary as executive director of MYSO.  The establishment of a scholarship fund in Richman’s name is an appropriate reflection of her goals. She is committed to bringing diversity to MYSO and to ensuring that all young people—regardless of circumstance—have the chance to study music. Fran’s Fund, which has the full support of the MYSO Board of Directors, will receive an appropriate kickoff at an event on June 1st called Franissimo!, a roast and toast of Fran Richman. 

Minnesota Youth Symphonies is celebrating its 35th anniversary season with world-class artists and multiple premieres. The season kicked off in November with Cuban pianist Nachito Herrera, an internationally renowned jazz artist who started as a classical prodigy, performing with the MYS Symphony. Also this season, each of MYS’ four orchestras will premiere works by Minnesota composers. Pieces were commissioned from Stephen Paulus, MYS alumnus Edward “Teddy” Niedermaier, and Shelley Hanson. A fourth work by Aaron Hirsch, an eleventh-grader from rural Minnesota, was selected from a composition contest. MYS is also honoring Co-Artistic Directors Manny and Claudette Laureano for 20 years of leadership. In 1988, the Laureanos became the nation’s only husband-and-wife conducting team for a youth orchestra program. They have grown the program from one orchestra of 58 students to four orchestras of 380 students participating in rehearsals, workshops, retreats, summer classes, and community outreach programs.

The New York Youth Symphony, well into its winter performance season, presented its second of three performances in Carnegie Hall on Sunday March 16, with Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. The concert followed a working session with Maestro Alan Gilbert, music director-designate of the New York Philharmonic, as part of NYYS’s Meet the Maestros series, which introduces NYYS musicians to high-caliber podium leadership. Other unique events included Orchestrations+, a collaborative reading project with the American Composers Orchestra wherein arrangements by NYYS’s Making Score students were performed, discussed, and recorded. Upcoming events include Composition Date: 2008 on May 7 at Symphony Space, where young composers from Making Score, NYYS’s composition program, will have their works performed by members of NYYS’s orchestra, jazz band, chorus, and chamber music programs. 

Members of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra are helping to defray the cost of their upcoming tour to China by selling raffle tickets for “Painted Violins and Other Intriguing Instruments” that were decorated by local artists. The instruments include 8 violins, 1 cello, 2 basses, 1 horn, 1 clarinet, and 1 oboe. So far, over $8,500 has been raised. The final fundraiser for the tour will be a “China Garden Party” on Memorial Day weekend. 

The Portland Youth Philharmonic is pleased to announce that David Hattner has been unanimously selected as the fifth Conductor and Music Director of the 84-year old institution. Mr. Hattner was chosen from a pool of more than 112 candidates from around the world after an eight month process of evaluation by a search committee made up of board members, parents, music teachers, alumni, current musicians, and representatives from the Oregon Symphony and Chamber Music Northwest. 

The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra joined Rochester’s public radio station, WXXI-FM, in bringing NPR’s “From The Top” to Rochester in January. WXXI was one of the first stations nationwide to broadcast the pilot shows of “From The Top,” and they wished to show their continued support for this terrific program that has been such a boost to young musicians nationwide. A string quartet and a pianist from Rochester were chosen to perform, along with an oboist, a guitarist, and a mezzo-soprano brought in from other states. The show, with pianist Christopher O’Riley as host, was a very successful way of bringing community music lovers together and supporting local student talent. 

The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory will welcome world-renowned violin soloist Eugene Fodor as its Artist-in-Residence May 24-May 31. The youth orchestra’s most promising violinists will have the opportunity work with Mr. Fodor during a masterclass. Also as part of his residency Mr. Fodor will perform a solo recital to raise scholarship money for the SDYS Scholarship Fund, and will participate in a number of outreach events at schools in the San Diego area. His final performance will take place at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, where he will perform the Symphonie Espagnole for violin and orchestra by Edouard Lalo with Artistic Director Jeff Edmons conducting the SDYS Philharmonia.  

The Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra’s March 2 performance in Benaroya Hall featured a special guest appearance by two internationally acclaimed musicians: award winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis and the Principal Cellist of Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Joshua Roman. Both artists, having been recognized as child prodigies, have developed into two of the most provocative and progressive artists of their generation, and have given a new voice to the continued vitality of symphonic music.


“Three Songs Without Words: Segregation Song, Some, Her”….by DBR 

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras’ Chamber Ensemble recently performed with composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain. This was a wonderful opportunity for students to be able to rehearse and perform a work with a living composer. DBR revised and reworked the piece to fit the ensemble with direct involvement of the musicians. The musicians were able to perform a different genre of music on their string instruments and get a feel for other types of music available to them. It was a moving and passionate musical experience for the ensemble to perform music that was based on the life and experiences of one of their contemporaries. From the very first note to the last cutoff, the conductor and soloists felt that, as one musician put it, “Every note played was an explosion of sound and harmony that resonated out of each and every musician’s soul a true passion for music and a zest for life!” 

Submitted by: Kristofer Sanz, MCYO Chamber Ensemble Conductor


Dear Youth Orchestra Division, 

Thank you to those of you who attended the Mid-Year Meeting in February! The Detroit Symphony Orchestra was our gracious host this year. In addition to attending concerts by the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Orchestra Division joined the Education/Community Engagement Constituency for sessions to discuss many of the issues currently facing the field. 

If you have not already done so, I recommend taking a look at the March-April issue of SYMPHONY magazine. The current issue contains two feature articles on El Sistema and youth orchestras in the United States. They are great reflections of the impact of youth orchestras and touch on many topics of interest not only to the YOD but to the orchestra field as a whole. We’ll be exploring the impact of El Sistema at this year’s League Conference. 

As you’ve probably heard, this year’s Conference will be part of the National Performing Arts Convention (NPAC). We hope that you’ll be able to join us in Denver for this exciting event, June 10-14, 2008. Many thanks to Louis Scaglione, YOD Chair, Robert Cooper, and Mary Corneil, our YOD conference co-chairs for planning what will be a very exciting conference! Our YOD meetings will include sessions on diversity, the impact of El Sistema on U.S. youth orchestras, local partnerships on behalf of arts education, and a joint meeting featuring José Antonio Abreu, founder of El Sistema.

During NPAC, we’ll be joining forces with the 20+ performing arts organizations that will be present for general sessions, breakouts, workshops, and caucuses run by America Speaks. In addition, the League’s Orchestra Leadership Academy and National Arts Strategies will be organizing a number of pre-convention seminars. For more information, please visit the Conference section of www.americanorchestras.org. 

I hope all of your seasons are going well so far. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance. 

Jeanette Wong
Youth Orchestra Division Liaison
League of American Orchestras

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