UPBEAT (Spring 2009)

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Spring 2009










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 Friends,

I hope this note finds you well and having survived the long winter. It’s been unusually cold here in Philadelphia, and I look forward to spring.

The YOD had its fourth annual Mid-Year Meeting in conjunction with our Education and Community Engagement colleagues in San Francisco. The event, again, was very successful. Much was learned and shared among colleagues and friends. I would like to thank Jessica Balboni and Najean Lee of the League of American Orchestras and Ron Gallman and Jefferson Packer of the San Francisco Symphony for coordinating and organizing such a successful event.

As spring approaches, the YOD Board will be seeking nominations from the YOD membership for new Board members. The YOD Board is a great way to get involved with the League and support our field. Information has just been distributed via email. If you are interested, or if you have any questions, you may contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 215-545-0502.

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us in Chicago for the League’s National Conference. We understand that these are trying times and that financial resources are limited. However, the National Conference is your orchestra’s investment in you and your staff. The agenda for the Conference focuses on managing in turbulent times, and you will come away with tools, resources, and innovative ways to better lead your organizations. I look forward to seeing you in Chicago.

I wish you the very best with the remainder of your concert season.

With warm regards,

Louis Scaglione
Chairman, Youth Orchestra Division

President & Music Director - Philadelphia Youth Orchestra


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As new members of the League staff, and liaisons to the Youth Orchestra Division, we wanted to introduce ourselves and to say how pleased we are to be working with you. We will be your primary contacts at the League, and while some of you met Jessica at the Mid-Year Meeting in San Francisco, we hope that you will also be able to meet Sam at this year’s Conference in Chicago. Until then, we wish you the best of luck with the rest of your season and look forward to meeting many of you for the first time at Conference!


Jessica Balboni, Director, Orchestra Leadership Academy
Sam Orleans
, Program Coordinator, Learning and Leadership Development


The Albuquerque Youth Symphony, under the direction of Gabriel Gordon, will give a concert tour in Australia in June 2009. The tour will include concerts in Brisbane and Sydney, including a concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Despite current economic woes, the annual November Gala to benefit Empire State Youth Orchestra, Inc. (ESYO) raised over $37,000. In December, ESYO received $3,000 from its annual Barnes & Noble Holiday Bookfair. Donations to our annual appeal do not appear to have dropped off; we feel honored and grateful that the community is supporting us so well in such a stressful time. ESYO’s new board president, Sarah Vero, took over on January 1, succeeding Meris Ruzow, who presided for 6 years. Vero is an attorney in Albany and has first-hand knowledge of ESYO: she was a cellist in the orchestra in 1998. For over 25 years, ESYO has assembled a chorale for an annual Christmas benefit to raise money for Albany Medical Center. This year, the chorale’s season has been expanded and the singers will join ESYO’s Youth Orchestra in two major performances this spring, including William Walton’s “Belshazzar’s Feast.”

Grammy-nominated composer and pianist Philip Aaberg is the Great Falls Youth Orchestra’s artist-in-residence throughout the 2008-09 season. The residency has included a performance of Mr. Aaberg’s original work “Westbound-Don’t Stop Now” for orchestra and solo piano in November 2008, and culminated with the premiere of a commissioned piece, “To The Mountain,” in March 2009.

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra is proud to present MCYO Trawick Chamber Music Program, with support from the Trawick Foundation. With this program, our goal is to provide chamber music training that will complement our orchestral program. In our first season, over 10 chamber groups were formed, from violin duos to percussion ensembles. Each group was given weekly coaching sessions and just this past December, they performed in a wonderful chamber music recital. We hope to continue and expand this program for the coming seasons, in hopes that every one of our musicians can experience the wonders of chamber music.

The Minnesota Youth Symphonies (MYS) held its annual MYS Gala and Auction at The Saint Paul Hotel on Saturday, March 7, 2009. Highlights of the evening, which raised over $24,000 to benefit MYS orchestral training and music education programs, included the MYS Gala Orchestra, led by Manny Laureano, performing waltzes, polkas, and other orchestral music for 150 dancing guests.

EarShot Readings Network, a collaborative effort by the American Composers Orchestra, American Music Center, American Composers Forum, Meet The Composer, and the League to help support and promote readings of new orchestral works by American composers (www.earshotnetwork.org), is working with the New York Youth Symphony MAKING SCORE program. Members of the American Composers Orchestra will be seated with members of the New York Youth Symphony and, together, they will read several works by the young composers in the MAKING SCORE program. There will also be composer and player mentoring activities. Eleven workshops are held from November to June.

At the Youth Orchestra of the Rockies’ November 23 concert in Fort Collins, Colorado, entitled “Perseverance, Dignity, and Courage,” Tom Sutherland—a former Colorado State University professor who was held hostage in Beirut for more than six years—was the guest narrator in Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” The concert, which also featured Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and selections from John Williams’s “Schindler’s List,” was designed to demonstrate to student musicians the ideals that drove the creation of the music, and help the students and audience to “experience inspirational music, driven by inspirational ideas,” according to Cynthia Katsarelis, the orchestra’s music director.

This season, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) created “City Series,” a set of concerts intended to bring music to areas of San Antonio that have limited classical music concert-going opportunities. The first City Series concert was on San Antonio’s North Side and attracted 500 people. The second City Series concert was on the city’s West Side on Sunday, February 1, 2009. YOSA has invested significant resources in programs that provide music education to underserved students. YOSA launched a pilot program for the first Music Learning Center last October. Modeled after El Sistema in Venezuela, the Center provides a free daily after-school orchestra program which includes loaned instruments, free private instruction, and performance opportunities. The Center has over 40 students, and, with the support of our educators, donors, staff and board, hopes to grow significantly this year to more than 100 students.

Thanks to a special partnership with the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, VT, the Vermont Youth Orchestra and members of the VYO Chorus were fortunate to be the very first youth orchestra members to perform in the popular and exciting “Video Games Live.” Sweeping through concert halls across the country in sold-out performances, “Video Games Live” is a spectacular multimedia performance that combines the power of a full orchestra, the energy of a rock concert, and the popularity of video games. Led by conductor Jack Wall, the orchestra and chorus performed the scores from classic and current video games, augmented by video footage, synchronized lighting, and interactive audience segments. Musical selections from games Mario, Zelda, Fantasy, Myst, Pac-Man, Civilization IV, Tetris, Frogger, Space Invaders, and many more were included on the program.
John B. Hedges’s “Yma” was inspired by Peruvian singer Yma Sumac’s (1922-2008) magnetic personality and extraordinary vocal abilities. These two attributes are craftily blended into the solo clarinet part. The orchestra adds colors and textures reminiscent of the exoticism of Sumac’s music. The son of a rock musician, the Hedges’s fondness of pop music adds rhythmic vitality and energy to the piece. “Yma” requires an advanced group able to achieve subtle colors and balance out complex textures. There are several cadenzas involving the percussion section and the soloist. We allowed between 4-5 hours of rehearsal time. “Yma” showcases elements of popular music within a refined symphonic frame that engages both the orchestra and the audience. The piece can be obtained by contacting the composer (www.johnbhedges.com).

Submitted by Andres Franco, Youth Orchestra of Greater Fort Worth


If you have not already registered, please join us at the League of American Orchestras National Conference June 9-12, 2009 in Chicago. The League is working to make Conference as affordable and valuable as possible for our members. Sessions emphasize practical, hands-on learning that will help managers deal with the core issues of the new economic reality as they shape their longer term strategic direction. Topics include:

In addition, there will be 5 constituency meetings that address issues that are “top-of-mind” for the youth orchestra community as you come together at Conference.
The YOD Board seeks nominations from the Division for Board Directorship. Nominations may come in two forms: self nomination; or nominating a colleague whom you believe would be a good board member. As a matter of protocol, the Nominating Committee will consider one nomination per youth orchestra organization. This allows for national representation. You may nominate individuals from your administration, artistic staff, and board/volunteers pool. The individual should have a great passion for youth orchestras, and have proven themselves very committed to your organization. For more information or forms, please contact Evan Richards, Chairman of the Nominating Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


The Teaching Artist Research Project Wants YOU!

Calling all teaching artists! The Teaching Artist Research Project (TARP) is the first national study to examine the world and work of teaching artists. Though teaching artists have played significant roles in our culture and educational systems for a century, we know very little about them: what are their backgrounds, their aspirations, their needs, their potential? TARP will answer these questions through site studies in 12 diverse communities, surveying artists and program managers to collect data and then following up with in-depth, key-informant interviews in each study site. TARP hopes to provide fresh new ideas for sustaining and supporting the development of teaching artists and for maximizing their potential to contribute to making high-quality arts education widely available.

If you are a teaching artist or if you manage a program that hires teaching artists, please register at the study website and send this link to other teaching artists and program managers. TARP will contact registrants when the study goes live early this year.

World Busk Project Seeks Participants

Musequality is a UK-based charity that funds communal music projects for some of the poorest children in the developing world. From June 8-14, 2009, the Musequality World Busk will be held to raise money to set up and support more Musequality projects. Sunday, June 14 will be a special busking day for young people all over the world. Musicians of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to take part in what planners hope to be the largest simultaneous busk ever. For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
  • The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible (Oxford University Press)
    America’s first ever how-to book on teaching artistry has been written for long-time practitioners and beginners alike. Eric Booth’s The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible includes useful guidance on issues such as effective communication, time management, gaining employment, partnering, advocacy, and more. Teaching artistry is increasingly seen as an essential tool of the 21st century artist, and this foundational guide is more necessary than ever. Already widely endorsed, The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible marks the coming of age of this essential, vital profession, and is sure to live up to its name of “bible.” Copies are available for purchase from Amazon, or at bookstores.

  • New Resources on OST from The Wallace Foundation
    The Wallace Foundation announces three new features that can help orchestra educators estimate the cost of high quality out-of-school time (OST) programs in the U.S., and teach them more about how cities are funding them. The Cost of Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs, the Out-of-school time cost calculator”, and report, Financial Strategies to Support Citywide Systems of Out-of-School Time Programs from The National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education and Families, are tools that should prove valuable to policymakers, program administrators, and others who want to provide families with OST services that make a real difference in children’s lives. The reports and the calculator are available free of charge. These and other OST resources from Wallace are available online.
  • GAO Report Finds Declines in Arts Education
    A recent study released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds significant declines in arts education for minority and low-income students and calls for further research by the U.S. Department of Education to discover the status of arts education in our nation’s schools. President Obama’s newly announced education policy plan emphasizes early childhood education, performance pay for teachers, local school innovation, and lifelong learning opportunities. Although it does not explicitly make reference to the arts, opportunities to strengthen arts education may arise in discussions about innovation and creativity.


ASO Talent Development Program Cellist Named Sphinx Competition Laureate

The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra congratulations Khari Joyner, first place junior division laureate at the 12th Annual Sphinx Competition! Mr. Joyner, a 17-year old cellist from Atlanta, GA, member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra and student of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program, has been named the First Place Junior Division Laureate of the Sphinx Competition. The Junior Division Honors Concert was held on Friday, January 30, 2009 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mr. Joyner is the first ASO Talent Development Program student to win at this prestigious competition. The Sphinx Competition identifies, rewards, and promotes young Black and Latino string players, and has awarded over $1,000,000 in prizes and scholarships for over eleven years. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program supports talented, young African-American and Latino students, of every orchestral instrument, who desire to pursue classical music. More information about the ASO Talent Development Program is available online here.

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