Upbeat Spring 2011

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Spring 2011

Note from the Chair


Note from the League


Carnegie Hall and Royal Conservatory Achievement Program

Third Class of Abreu Fellows Announced


News You Can Use

Orchestra Notes


Maestro’s Notebook


Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program

UPBEAT is published twice a year 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.


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

Contact the Youth Orchestra Division Board

Note from the Chair

Ever wonder how to really use your social media tools for the benefit of your organization? Or how to keep your group’s vision on track? What about finding your footing as a supportive partner in today’s new world of arts education? These and more thought-provoking questions will inspire you during the 66th National Conference of the League of American Orchestras. The drastic changes taking place today in our collective arts community is forcing everyone to take stock of current methods, long-standing notions and operational norms. The Youth Orchestra Division constituency needs to marshal its forces and forge a collective brain-bank in order to survive the onslaught of foundation cuts, less government support, and greater scholarship need, and to stay on a consistently improving artistic path. I hope you will join us in this endeavor and attend the conference June 6-9 in Minneapolis. A heightened enthusiasm and a brain bursting with new ideas for my own organization always accompanies me back to my hometown. Let’s build a new artistic world together!

Melody Welsh-Buchholz
Executive Director
Louisville Youth Orchestra
Chair, Youth Orchestra Division
League of American Orchestras

Note from the League

Join us in Minneapolis from June 6-9 for valuable professional development, networking, and socializing with your youth orchestra colleagues. We’ll delve into topics such as developing a youth orchestra’s vision through programming, making effective use of social media, understanding the new music education landscape, and more. You'll find complete YOD Session Descriptions online, and do be sure to register by May 1st, before rates go up!

In addition to dedicated YOD sessions at Conference, you might be interested in the following specific sessions to round out your time in Minneapolis. (Click links below to read descriptions.)

Orchestra Leadership Academy Seminars of interest:
Developing Ensemble Programs for Children in Your Community
Maximizing and Sustaining Leadership Impact
Bold Leadership: Seizing Opportunity in Times of Change
Making Smart Strategic Choices
Digital Strategies for Your Orchestra

Rise of the Supercitizen
Today's Young Musicians
Public Value and Perception: Your Messaging Tool Kit
Lessons from El Sistema
Learning from and Listening to Your Community

Field Trip: 3M Innovation Center
Civic Vitality: The Case for Relevance


Carnegie Hall and Royal Conservatory Achievement Program

Earlier this spring, Carnegie Hall and The Royal Conservatory announced their partnership to create the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program, a national system of music study and assessment for students and teachers. The program is designed to inspire excellence through individual student assessments and allow students to celebrate accomplishment and track their progress with others across the country. It also supports teachers with high-quality and innovative resources. In addition to its focus on performance, the program also encompasses sequential learning in the areas of technique, musicianship, music theory, music history, and pedagogy. Teachers and students can participate in The Achievement Program anywhere in the United States. For registration information, including details of fees, materials, and locations, please visit TheAchievementProgram.org.

Third Class of Abreu Fellows Announced

The New England Conservatory has announced its third class of Abreu Fellows, a cohort of ten post-graduate musicians that will train as leaders of El Sistema-inspired music education programs in the United States. Aisha Bowden, Julie Davis, David France, Ben Fuller, José Luis Hernández-Estrada, Stephanie Lin Hsu, Jennifer Kessler, Alysia Lee, Avi Mehta, and Albert Oppenheimer will train through next May and participate in residencies in several American cities and in Venezuela. The Abreu Fellows Program at New England Conservatory is an official program of NEC's Preparatory and Continuing Education Schools directed by Dean and Executive Director Leslie Wu Foley. The Abreu Fellows Program was created in response to El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu's 2009 TED Wish to Change the World and has produced young musical entrepreneurs who are currently leading nucleos (music education programs) in Juneau, Los Angeles, Durham, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York City, Boston and--shortly--Cleveland and Cincinnati. For further information, check the NEC website.

News You Can Use

Federal Budget Update: How did the Arts Do?
Congress has at last closed the books on the budgetary process for fiscal year 2011. After several months of grueling debate, the House and Senate agreed to final terms for the FY11 budget, which includes $155 million for the National Endowment for the Arts and $25.5 million for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education. Thanks to strong advocacy from thousands of constituents, Congress voted to restore a portion of the Arts in Education funding and protect the NEA from more drastic cuts. Orchestra supporters responded in record numbers in contacting their members of Congress regarding FY11 spending priorities, and Congress will very soon tackle further cuts in FY12. The League will continue to keep orchestras informed as action unfolds, and in the meantime, music education advocates at local, state, and community levels may find useful a new two-page resource that compiles the most effective talking points to date.

Secretary Duncan Offers Federal Support for Arts Education in State Budgets
The U.S. Department of Education has released promising practices to state leaders about how to spend education dollars productively. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan urged state governors not to make “short-sighted cuts” such as “eliminating instruction in the arts.” Secretary Duncan’s letter to governors highlights guidance on the flexibility of using federal funds to support different accounts and school districts in need of financial assistance. Arts education programs are eligible to be supported locally through federal funds, such as Title I, since it is a core academic subject. The Secretary’s letter and the Department’s guidance may be of help as music education advocates seek to bolster support in state education budgets and when speaking before local school boards. Various links can be found online and the Guidance on Productivity document contains the arts education reference noted above, under the First, Do No Harm section.

Orchestra Notes

Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bellevue, Washington announces the fifth C. Keith Birkenfeld Composition Contest for Young Composers for 2012, up to age 22. Guidelines and deadlines are on our website, www.byso.org.

Carolina Youth Symphony

The Carolina Youth Symphony has been designated a recipient of the 2011 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner award for an arts organization, This award is given to recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina. The Verner Award is the highest honor the state of South Carolina gives in the arts. It is given to organizations or individuals that maximize their roles as innovators, supporters and advocates of the arts. In 1980, the Verner Awards took on a special significance with their designation as the official “Governor’s Awards for the Arts.” The presentation of the award will be made in Columbia, South Carolina on May 5th.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) will return to Chicago’s Millennium Park for two free concerts at the famous Jay Pritzker Pavilion this summer. Both programs highlight CYSO’s commitment to both the time-honored pieces of the masters of classical music and contemporary composers and artists. On June 12, CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra will perform the perfect program for a mid-summer night at the park—Michael Daugherty’s energetic Route 66, Philip Glass’s The Canyon, Samuel Barber’s Symphony No. 1 and Igor Stravinsky’s masterpiece The Rite of Spring. On August 8, CYSO members will join My Brightest Diamond for an exciting collaboration as part of the Dusk Variations series, which mixes pop and alternative genres with classical music. A project led by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Shara Worden, My Brightest Diamond provides a seamless blending of rock, opera and chamber music. CYSO will join Shara in performing a variety of her works newly orchestrated for this concert.

Empire State Youth Orchestras (ESYO)
In March, guest performer/composer Jin Hi Kim joined the Youth Orchestra in a performance of her composition, Monk Dance (for Korean Barrel Drums); the piece was an integral part of a program celebrating cross-cultural influences on music. Kim returns in May when the Youth Orchestra gives the final concert of the Albany Symphony’s American Music Festival. This winter, ESYO introduced a pilot program of chamber music instruction. Led by the Hyperion String Quartet, 19 musicians formed 6 ensembles that met weekly over the winter. The successful project concluded with a recital in March; plans are underway to continue the program next season. ESYO’s 4th annual gala in March honored three donors who have been instrumental in supporting ESYO’s 15-year old inner-city instrument training program, one component of the diversity initiative ESYO highlighted this season.

Great Falls Youth Orchestra
The Great Falls (Mt.) Youth Orchestra recently completed its third artist in residence program. The artist in residence program was inspired by the Orchestra Residency Program (ORP) in Great Falls with Midori in 2005. The Youth Orchestra now hosts an artist in residence biennially. This year composer/pianist John Harmon (Lawrence University, retired) was our artist in residence. John wrote BISON; Sacred Nomad of the Great Plains for the orchestra which played the premiere on March 20, 2011. John was also in Great Falls for a week in November when he led improvisation workshops in the public school. He also gathered inspiration by visiting the C.M. Russell Museum’s bison exhibit and First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. When he returned in March 2011 John continued his school outreach visits, coached chamber ensembles, and attended the premiere performance of his composition by the Great Falls Youth Orchestra.

Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
May 1 in Minneapolis, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony and Minnesota Chorale will present selections from Bizet’s Carmen. “This will be a new sonic experience,” says GTCYS Artistic Director Amir Kats. “The colors of an orchestra are already terrifically exciting—but adding voices is something else!” Minnesota Chorale Artistic Director Kathy Romey is passionate about her organization’s role in partnering with programs like GTCYS. “This gives high school musicians a foundation for the kind of choral-symphonic repertoire they may encounter in a university, civic, or professional orchestra.” She predicts the collaboration will provide a kind of “dual mentoring” benefiting everyone. The singers’ years of artistic experience and students’ youthful energy will result in a choral-orchestral dialogue creating a powerful experience for all. And why Bizet? “Carmen proves that the accessible can be first-rate,” says Kats.

Green Mountain Youth Symphony
The Green Mountain Youth Symphony celebrated its 10th Anniversary this spring. The advanced orchestras from Vermont and its satellite program in New Hampshire collaborated on pieces GMYS has commissioned in the last decade by composers Lydia Busler-Blais, Erik Nielsen, and Dennis Bathory-Kitsz. GMYS will also be joining six youth orchestras from Europe and Asia for the Eurorchestries Festival in Quebec City for a week of concerts in August, and Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin has declared August 14-21 Green Mountain Youth Symphony week.

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras
MCYO’s March concert was filled with exciting guests and repertoire. “Tuned In” a community development program of the Peabody Preparatory which offers Peabody Prep scholarships, performed with the MCYO Young Artists. The Symphony had the honor of featuring tenor Rolando Sanz singing “Nessun Dorma” from Turandot. And Crystal Luo, winner of the piano concerto competition performed with the Philharmonic on movement I of Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto 2 in c minor, Op. 18. MCYO, along with American String Teachers Association (MD/DC), Potter’s Violins, and Black Rock Center for the Arts offered an exciting workshop conducted by international recording artist, performer, producer, inventor and Emmy-winning composer, Mark Wood. String players were able to experience the alternative style of electric strings, and performed a concert following the workshops. The second day of the workshops was held for string teachers.

McHenry County Youth Orchestras

The McHenry County Youth Orchestras (MCYO) have been awarded “Youth Orchestra of the Year” by the Illinois Council of Orchestras. The award winners were announced on Monday, 21 March 2011. The award is for the 2009-2010 season, the 30th anniversary season for MCYO and included special guests Rachel Barton Pine in November 2009, the Chicago Brass Band in February 2010, and about 40 returning alumni for the final concert of the season, May 2010.

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
The National Youth Orchestra of Iraq is facing its first international and diplomatic challenge. Collaborating with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, we are preparing our first foreign visit, to Beethovenfest (www.beethovenfest.com) in Bonn this September. During the festival’s Orchestra Campus, we’re premiering two Deutsche Welle commissions—Desert Camel by Mohammed Amin Ezzat and Invocation by Ali Authman—and performing in local schools. Beforehand, our third Iraqi summer course includes the premiere of A Reel of Spindrift by the current Master of the Queen’s Music, Peter Maxwell Davies, published by Schott. Meanwhile, our cello tutor, Dave Edmonds is running a half marathon to raise funds for 2011: http://www.betterplace.org/groups/run-for-nyoi. Come and join our journey at www.facebook.com/NYO.IRAQ.

New Jersey Youth Symphony
The New Jersey Youth Symphony is pleased to announce Jeffrey Grogan as the new Conductor of the Youth Symphony. Mr. Grogan will now take on the Youth Symphony during the final concert period of this season, culminating in a performance with the orchestra on June 11, 2011 at 7:00pm at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ. Applauded for performances “high in energy, with close attention to ebb and flow,” American conductor Mr. Grogan is hailed as a musical leader who “knows what kind of sound he wants from an orchestra”—”rich and vibrant.” Known for “shrewd programming, skillful rehearsing, and an energized performance,” Grogan was chosen to participate in the prestigious 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview sponsored by the League of American Orchestras. In addition, he spends a large portion of each season working with school music programs, festivals, and conducting All-State Orchestras throughout the country.

New York Youth Symphony
Barry Goldberg, Executive Director of the New York Youth Symphony, which has won numerous awards for its work with young musicians, announced plans for his retirement at the close of the 2010-11 season. Board Chair Leslie J. Garfield made the official announcement, saying “Barry has been an exemplary executive director for the last 28 years; we could not have asked for more. If we were a sports organization rather than a musical one, we would retire his number.” Since joining in 1983, Mr. Goldberg transformed the tuition-free program for young musicians into an award-winning organization with 240 musicians in orchestra, conducting, chamber music, jazz, and composition components. Additionally, he created the First Music program which has since commissioned 119 young American composers and catapulted their careers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners David Lang and Aaron Jay Kernis.

Philharmonic Association, Inc.
The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County presented the Philharmonic Association with the 2011 Business Support of the Arts Award, in the category of Arts Education. Eleanor Oakley, President of United Arts, offered the following comments to an audience at the North Carolina Museum of Art on January 6: “The Philharmonic Association is cited for its ‘extraordinary commitment to improving education through the arts since 1988.’ The Philharmonic now consists of the Triangle Youth Philharmonic, the Triangle Youth Symphony, Triangle Youth Orchestra, two Triangle Youth String Orchestras, and the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble. The Triangle Youth String Orchestra was added just last year in response to the growing loss of string programs in middle and elementary schools. In its 23 years, more than 1,800 young people have participated in these ensembles, all benefiting from the experience of an exceptional music education program.”

Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
The Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, led by its long-time music director David Harman celebrated in March its 40th Anniversary in the Eastman School of Music’s beautifully renovated Kodak Hall. The Side-by-Side Concert with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra included a performance of Mozart Sinfonia Concertante by RPYO alumni Daryl Perlo of the Rochester Philharmonic and Vivek Kamath of the New York Philharmonic; RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman; and a 10th anniversary performance of “Rush” composed by the Eastman School’s David Liptak and commissioned for the RPYO.

Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra
The Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra (Michigan) has been chosen as a “project” of Deloitte and the Great Lakes Loons, minor league partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team that plays in the Midwest League. The project is called “K’s for Kids.” Deloitte will donate $5 for each strikeout made by a Great Lakes Loons pitcher throughout its season, which began April 7, 2011. The total funds from the entire season will be split between the five groups participating in the 2011 “K’s for Kids” project.

San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory
This month, the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory completed an innovative music camp for its El Sistema inspired program, the Community Opus Project. Sixty-five third grade students learning stringed instruments in Chula Vista engaged in music theory classes, voice training, sectional workshops, and full ensemble rehearsals for four hours each day for a week. As part of the experience students wrote to pen pals at other U.S. El Sistema “nucleos” to connect children from across the country through their interest in music. Musicians from the San Diego Symphony assisted with sectionals and inspired the young musicians to improve their skills. The camp culminated in an amazing performance where students sang and performed the themes from the Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony, Mexican folk songs, and Orpheus in the Underworld after only five months of instruction to a standing room only crowd.

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras

The Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras were invited for a third consecutive year to be the featured performers at the annual Concert in the Park. The community event brings thousands of spectators to the Old Sauk Trails Park in Madison, and this year will showcase the talents of the Youth Orchestra, WYSO’s premier performing group, under the baton of Conductor James Smith. The concert will be held on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

Youth Orchestra of Bucks County
The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County (PA) is planning a special Gala concert to celebrate 20 years of classical music enrichment for youth. Chris Brubeck and his group Triple Play will be YOBC’s guest artists at our 20th anniversary celebration this May. Chris Brubeck is recognized as an innovative jazz-rock performer and an award-winning composer. In March, Brubeck led a master class for YOBC students on odd meters and rhythms. He and Triple Play will join the YOBC Wind Ensemble in a performance of his own Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra, and the YOBC Symphony Orchestra as they perform some works by his father, Dave Brubeck. The concert will be held on Saturday, May 21, at Patriots Theater in the Trenton War Memorial. The concert, the first in our “Crossing Classical Boundaries” series, will include members of all YOBC ensembles, and 20 years of YOBC alumni.

Youth Orchestras of Charlottesville-Albemarle
Premiere Gala for our Youth Orchestras… On June 17, 2011, our Youth Symphony, along with invited alumni, will perform the premiere of Ephemera, an original piece by Charlottesville’s much-loved premier jazz trumpeter, John D’earth. John was commissioned last summer to compose a piece combining improvisational jazz and classical music. The Youth Orchestras of Charlottesville-Albemarle will celebrate this debut at a fundraising Gala at the Paramount Theater on June 17th. This gala concert presents more than just the chance for the youth to perform a high profile, commissioned work to a large audience; it also offers an important opportunity to garner wider understanding of, and support for, what Youth Orchestras offers its community. We will also announce our new official name: Youth Orchestras of Central Virginia!

Maestro’s Notebook

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Allen Tinkham, Music Director
Jonathan Newman’s Tree; Instrumentation: string orchestra. Duration: 8-9’
In Newman’s words, “Tree offers a chorale fragment, floating and transforming through an expanse of sound.” It is a disarmingly beautiful little string piece. A transcription of a triple quartet, Tree is replete with divisi playing and requires a minimum of players to cover the parts. I did it with an advanced string orchestra of The rest of the program was very difficult, so Tree got only about two hours total rehearsal. Harmonic materials are simple, but it is virtually an etude in string ensemble balance, and there are many opportunities to discuss bow proportion and Newman’s interesting and unique use of sul ponticello. Top violins need good ears to pick out some of the very high isolated pitches, and it is useful to have a bass with low C. For further information or to hear the CYSO recording of the piece, visit Jonathan’s website.

Minnesota Youth Symphonies
Claudette and Manny Laureano, Co-artistic Directors
The Repertory Orchestra of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies replicated the battle between Britain and France when performing Wellington’s Victory by Beethoven. The piece uses several familiar themes, “God Save the King,” “Rule Britannia” and “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” Claudette Laureano staged the piece with half of the orchestra dressed in red, representing the British, and the other half in blue, representing the French. A color guard carrying the flags of the two nations entered Orchestra Hall led by a cadre of snare drums. “I love interjecting this type of drama and history into the works we perform,” says conductor Laureano. “Not only does it make the entire rehearsal process more fun and engaging, but the audience reaps the benefits with a spirited and dramatic performance.” Advanced players. Timing: 16 minutes. Instrumentation: full orchestra, including additional percussion for artillery sound effects. To borrow the piece, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Omaha Area Youth Orchestras

Aviva Segall, Music Director
The Omaha Area Youth Orchestras’ Youth Philharmonic recently performed Roger Zare’s Lift-Off. Originally commissioned by Andrew Lane and the Sarasota Orchestra Youth Philharmonic, this piece is one of those valuable, rare commodities: a good piece that also works for your second orchestra! Scored for double woodwinds, two horns, two trumpets, three trombones, three or five percussionists, harp and strings, the piece runs about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. We had the composer out during his spring break from University of Michigan, where he is finishing his doctoral work, and he was great to work with. Roger’s website is www.rogerzare.com. Last season, our Youth Philharmonic performed another good piece for your second orchestra, Carmel Raz’s OAYO, commissioned by OAYO. She has since changed the title to Fern, to make it less specific to our group. The piece is scored about 6 minutes long and scored for double woodwinds, two horns, two trumpets, 2 trombones, 3 percussionists, harp and strings. Carmel, a doctoral student at Yale University, is also approachable and great with young musicians. She was even willing to sit on the floor with a class of pre-schoolers! Carmel’s website is www.carmelraz.com. Both pieces took a similar amount of rehearsal time as the usual repertoire that I program for these groups.

Youth Orchestras of San Antonio
Troy Peters, Music Director
An Acoustic Evening with Jon Anderson (The Voice of YES)… After concerts in 2004 and 2010 with Liza Grossman and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland, rock musician Jon Anderson has begun to book appearances with other youth orchestras. Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) presented him on March 14, 2011. The program consisted of 15 songs; including some of the biggest YES hits, like “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Roundabout.” Because the arrangements were commissioned by the CYO, they were conceived for youth orchestra and come together fairly easily. Brass must swing in complicated sharp keys, and there are demanding mallet percussion parts. We put the program together in four rehearsals, including three with Jon. In addition to a full orchestra, a mixed chorus is essential. Our audience loved the concert, and our student musicians had the time of their lives! Ted Kurland Associates is handling bookings; contact Marilyn Rosen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Midori’s Orchestra Residencies Program

The Orchestra Residencies Program is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2012-13 season: the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra in Little Rock, Arkansas and the Reading Symphony Orchestra and Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Violinist Midori will spend five to seven days each in Little Rock and Reading, working intensively with the youth orchestras, performing with the adult symphonies, and participating in assorted community education and outreach projects.

Any U.S. youth orchestra and its affiliated adult orchestra, with combined budgets not exceeding $4.5 million, may submit an application for an Orchestra Residency with Midori. The orchestras must apply together. The applications are reviewed by a small committee of arts professionals, and two residencies will be awarded each year. For more information, please visit www.GoToMidori.com/orp.

Nathan Reiff, ORP Director
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 646-619-1181