Upbeat, Spring 2013

Upbeat Newsletter
Spring 2013
Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

In this issue:


Upbeat is published twice a year by the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras, 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

Dear Youth Orchestra Colleagues,

As our year-round orchestra activities wind-up over the coming few weeks, it is time to think about the summer and rejuvenation. Attending the League conference is a great way to recharge and bring fresh ideas back to your youth orchestra. The half dozen peer-to-peer calls that have taken place over the last few months have provided a wealth of ideas and issues for us to delve into. I would encourage you to sign-up and take part in the conversations in St. Louis.

At conference, there will be a session dedicated to what youth orchestras can offer beyond the rehearsal timeframe, exploring some of the fascinating work that the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and others have engaged in. And an in-depth look at advocacy and school relationships as we explore the work of the San Diego Youth Symphony with schools that have no music programs. An area relevant to many of you I am sure. The YOD Board meeting will be held on Tuesday afternoon–all are welcome to attend. And roundtable discussions are a great opportunity to dig into specific challenges you are facing to inquire of your colleagues of some potential solutions.

And of course you will also have the chance to hear the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra as they perform in Powell Hall as part of the keynote opening session on Tuesday afternoon.

This link includes a number of sessions that may be of interest to you.

I look forward to seeing you in St. Louis!

Steven Payne
Chair, Youth Orchestra Division, League of American Orchestras
Executive Director, Youth Orchestras of San Antonio


Orchestra Notes

Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra in Concert at the Symetra Family 4th Celebration

Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra
On July 4, 2013, the
 Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra will supply the music for the Symetra Family 4th Celebration, sponsored by the Bellevue Downtown Association. Last year, 65,000 people attended this show with a preconcert, and then live music for live fireworks. Members of BYSO were supplemented with our own alums, coaches and conducting staff. We are looking forward to this year's event.

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
CYSO’s Music Pathways program, which reaches 2,500 Chicago Public School students and educators each year, will present two education concerts on April 25 featuring CYSO’s Concert Orchestra. These year-end performances are interactive learning experiences that will combine the music the CPS students heard in their classrooms throughout the year with the information they learned from CYSO musicians during demonstrational concerts.

Chicago Public School Students attend a CYSO Music Pathways Education Concert

On May 19 at Orchestra Hall, CYSO's Symphony Orchestra will perform music from the Academy Award-winning film 2001: A Space Odyssey, including Khachaturian's Gayane: Adagio, Ligeti's Atmosphères and Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra. "The film itself is historic and these pieces from its soundtrack represent important milestones in the history of music,” says Music Director Allen Tinkham. Associate Conductor Terrance Malone Gray will also lead CYSO's Concert Orchestra in the Finale of Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4. The orchestras will repeat the program at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion on June 16.


“Crazy Conductor” talking to audience during Empire State Youth Orchestras’ Playathon. Photo Credit Chuck Brome.

Empire State Youth Orchestras
Empire State Youth Orchestras’ Feb. Playathon was a record-breaking success, grossing almost $20,000 to support ESYO’s nine performing groups and inner-city instrument training program. Bids to win the baton and conduct the orchestra were at an all-time high due to “Crazy Conductor” auctioneer/emcee (music teacher Brian Austin). In March, Capital Region (of NYS) concertgoers were treated to a rare live performance of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Conducted by Music Director Helen Cha-Pyo, ESYO’s Youth Orchestra was joined by guest organist Alfred V. Fedak. The hall’s organ is tuned a half-note lower than the orchestra, so an organ was rented for the performance. Ms. Cha-Pyo’s training as an organist was instrumental in placing the organ’s speakers face-up on the stage floor behind the orchestra to take advantage of the hall’s renowned acoustics - that allowed Mr. Fedak to literally and figuratively pull out all the stops!


Flint Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Flint Youth Symphony Orchestra's 2012-2013 season includes three very special collaborative performances. On January 10th, FYSO hosted the first ever Mid-Michigan Band and Orchestra Festival Concert featuring FYSO's 85 members and nearly 200 musicians from 16 area high schools. The concert was capped by a joint performance of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. February 23-March 3, FYSO hosted one of its French sister orchestras (Limonest Youth Symphony). The highlight was a joint performance of selections including Bernstein's West Side Story Overture and Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Finally, April 29-May3, FYSO will host another French sister orchestra (Courbevoie Youth Orchestra), with a May 2nd concert featuring works of Mozart and Beethoven.

Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
“When I was four, I dreamed of becoming a violin player for an orchestra in Dallas. Today, because of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, my dream has come true.” This quote comes from a 5th grade violinist in the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra’s Young Performers Orchestra who recently completed a project for a language arts class at school that culminated in a donation to the GDYO. A teacher at a school in the Dallas area had a wonderfully original and creative idea. She instructed students to write a four paragraph essay on a non-profit, describing it, and explaining why someone should donate to that organization. The essays were then sent to the Executive Director of a non-profit in New York who chose a “winner.” The winner received a donation to their non-profit from the 5th grade teacher and her father. What a wonderful learning experience for the young people involved.

Louisville Youth Orchestra in the “Voice of the People” Concert

Louisville Youth Orchestra
Louisville Youth Orchestra’s Symphony Orchestra performed for 1,400 middle school students as part of a city-wide initiative to bring quality musical education to all schools in the area. This "Voice of the People" event presented works by Copland, Sibelius and Shostakovich which highlighted how the collective voice of the people of America, Finland and Russia brought about change in their respective country's political direction. Students were bused from the Louisville Metro area and Southern Indiana to Louisville’s premiere concert hall, the Brown Theatre, for this free event which supplied bus subsidies to qualifying schools. The concert followed Kentucky's core curriculum content with narrative and educational materials presented by the LYO's Music Director, Jason Seber, and received an unprecedented five minute ovation by the 1,400 middle school students present. Several key patrons attending the event have already pledged support for next year's activity. Future plans include expanding to three concerts.

Music For Youth (now Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra) Training Orchestra, Ron Melby (back center) Director, 1967-68 Season

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra
Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra announces the retirement of MYSO conductor Ron Melby after 48 years. MYSO’s first event to honor him happened in January when MYSO’s Senior Symphony saluted him at its annual gala Founders Concert. MYSO will continue its celebration of his career May 18-19, the weekend of his final concert. Mr. Melby has shaped the lives of literally thousands—generations—of musicians through his tireless efforts and boundless enthusiasm for youth and music. One such musician is Executive Director Linda Edelstein: “I had the honor of working with Mr. Melby as a student. His dedication to excellence and devotion to his students make him a wonderful teacher and mentor. His passion for education instilled in me my life-long commitment to a career in music. I was beyond delighted to join MYSO and find Mr. Melby still teaching and mentoring students in the same selfless way he always has.”

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq Students

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
Now in its fifth year, NYOI is invited to Provence, Cultural Capital of Europe 2013, to play alongside National Youth Orchestras from France
, Italy and Spain. Our concert, in Grand Theatre de Provence on August 13th, includes premieres by Iraqi composers Mohammed Ezzat and Najat Amin alongside Saint Saens‘ second cello concerto, with NYOI cello tutor Dave Edmonds, and Beethoven 8, conducted by Paul MacAlindin. NYOI will integrate sixteen string from Orchestre Francais des Jeunes in a three-week course including intensive orchestral and chamber music, community concerts and train the trainer workshops, as NYOI members are directly responsible for rebuilding the music education of Iraq. Come join us on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

New York Youth Symphony
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season, the New York Youth Symphony's Orchestra honored former Board President Slade Mills and radio station WQXR with the Kesselman Award for Arts Education at the March 24th McCrindle Concert at Carnegie Hall. The awards were presented by Zarin Mehta, formerly of the New York Philharmonic. The Kesselman Award recognizes significant dedication by an individual or institution making outstanding contributions in nurturing young people in the arts. The concert, which received a wonderful review in the New York Times, will be broadcast on WQXR in May 2013. The New York Times review and information about the Kesselman Award can be found here.

Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-13 Season Photo

Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra
The Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra (OCYSO), under the direction of Music Director & Conductor Daniel Alfred Wachs, has received grants totaling $65,000 to support its 43-year mission of providing the finest pre-professional training for young musicians in Southern California. Funding will also support its upcoming Tour of the UK in August 2013.

Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
During the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization's 73rd Annual Season, 400 students representing five ensembles trained with peers and professionals and performed in prestigious arts venues across the Greater Philadelphia region. In spring, PYO participated in a special side-by-side rehearsal with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO) rehearsed with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. PYO's February concert featured Philadelphia Orchestra‘s Gloria dePasquale as cello soloist and was later aired Easter Sunday on WRTI. For the first time, all programs of the PYO organization - PYO, PYAO, Bravo Brass, PRYSM and Tune Up Philly – showcased their talent to the delight of supporters and friends at the Annual Gala. Our El Sistema-inspired program, Tune Up Philly, opened an additional site. The season culminates with a performance of Mahler's Second Symphony under the direction of President and Music Director Louis Scaglione.

Jarvis Chang, Concertmaster Chair, and Jasmine Wang, Associate Concertmistress Chair, Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory. Photo Credit Frances Reilly.

San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory
San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory's Symphony Orchestra recently completed a rare performance of Tchaikovsky’s 7th Symphony in Eb Major "Bogartyrev." In addition to San Diego's premier of the work, Jeff Edmons, Music Director, also conducted a side-by-side clinic on this piece with a guest youth orchestra, Las Vegas Academy Orchestra. Through a partnership with Rotary International, SDYS also hosts a two week long summer annual music camp "International Youth Symphony," which welcomes collaboration from students from around the world. On April 27, SDYS will participate in a special side-by-side event along with San Diego Symphony and two other youth orchestras in San Diego.

Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras
On Sunday, April 28, 2013 in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras will celebrate their 70th Anniversary with a gala concert at the peak of their extensive season! The concert will feature performances by all four orchestras and special anniversary events including historic video footage and appearances by SYSO alumni sharing how music changed their lives. SYSO will also hold a silent auction in the lobby before the concert and during intermission. All proceeds benefit SYSO programs and scholarships. Participation in the auction is complimentary with the purchase of a concert ticket.

Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra
The Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra is very excited to announce its inaugural season! We started rehearsals in February with 31 middle- and high-school students and will hold our first concert on June 1. We are happy to be filling a need here in the southern Maryland community and hope to grow much larger over the next few years.

Walla Walla Symphony
The Walla Walla Symphony Youth Orchestra (WWSYO) will perform a Side-by-Side Concert with members of the Walla Walla Symphony on Saturday, April 20 at 2:00pm at Cordiner Hall in Walla Walla, WA. The concert will feature the eclectic, New York based group, PROJECT Trio, made up of Greg Pattillo (flute), Eric Stephenson (cello), and Peter Seymour (double bass). The concert program will open with the WWSYO, who will perform Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture. Following this piece, members of the Walla Walla Symphony will join the WWSYO to perform two PROJECT Trio pieces arranged for orchestra, Fast and Winter in June, and Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The WWSYO is made up of 36 students, ages 12-18, who come from Walla Walla, College Place, Touchet, Kennewick, Pasco, and Milton-Freewater, OR.

The Young People's Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley
The Young People’s Philharmonic (YPP/JSP) collaborated with the Allentown Symphony Association in a master class with violinist Mark O’Connor and a school tour with violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins in November 2012. The week culminated with members of the YPP/JSP attending the Allentown Symphony’s Sunday matinee concert featuring both renowned performers. The event worked very well and provided further exposure to the world of professional musicians for our students.

Youth Orchestra of Bucks County
The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County welcomes Grammy Award-wining fiddler, Mark O'Connor on May 5. Mark O’Connor, world-renowned violinist and American composer, captivates audiences with his unique fusion of jazz, bluegrass, folk and classical music. He will be performing his new composition, "The Improvised Violin Concerto." At over 30 minutes in length, "The Improvised Violin Concerto" features the longest improvisation ever called for in a classical setting. For this breathtaking evening at Patriots Theater in the Trenton War Memorial, O'Connor will be accompanied by the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County Symphony Orchestra.

Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon
The Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon continued its Silver Jubilee Concert Season when the Youth Symphony, under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Hutton, premiered Mark Eliot Jacobs’ "The Orchard City: Medford, Oregon 1913" on the Winter Concert Series, March 1-3. Commissioned by and dedicated to the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon, the work is a symphonic fantasy on the City of Medford in 1913. "The Orchard City" incorporates the musical styles of the era, and evokes the history, geography, cultural development and vibrant spirit of the region in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Funding for Silver Jubilee Concert Season initiatives and performances has been provided by James M. Collier, the Carpenter Foundation, City of Ashland, Collins Foundation, Combined Transport, James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission/National Endowment for the Arts, Pacific Power Foundation, Sharkey Family Charitable Foundation, Southern Oregon Subaru and the U.S. Bancorp Foundation.

Maestro’s Notebook

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra
We recently gave the second performance of a new work by a composer on the Juilliard faculty: Prism by Wayne Oquin. It is six minutes, and uses most players most of the time. 3332/4331/tmp + 6 harp piano st. It is challenging (my orchestra is the #2 ensemble in a program of 350) but satisfying, and has a thrilling ending. It's a wonderful piece if you're looking to play a short, new composition with a big ending, and are looking to use everyone in the orchestra. For more information, visit

Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra
In collaboration with premier American new music ensemble Present Music, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra presents ten world premiere student compositions this year. In memory of visionary composer Dr. John Downey, selected MYSO musicians work with a professional composer who guides them from the early structural and conceptual issues of composition through the printing and rehearsals of their work. The JOHN DOWNEY CREATION PROJECT provides MYSO ensembles and young composers the important experience of tackling the challenges of new music. Dr. Downey served as MYSO’s Director of Music Theory/Composition for over 40 years and was a very important and beloved member of the MYSO family until his passing in 2004. A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Distinguished Professor of Music, he was internationally renowned and collaborated with the great artists of his time. He played a critically important role in the lives of thousands of students, several of whom have become noted composers.

National Youth Orchestra of Iraq
Desert Camel was a fun 10-minute piece for 2222/2200/timp/str in our 2011 program in Beethovenfest, Bonn. By Mohammed Amin Ezzat, Conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, it’s about a camel couple trotting through the desert. When bandits kidnap his lover, the camel pursues them to an oasis, fights to win back his love, kills the bandits and they both trot off into the sunset. Upper intermediate difficulty. Published by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Hear it at:

A Reel of Spindrift, Sky was written by Peter Maxwell Davies in 2011, premiered in Erbil, Iraq, in 2011: 2222/2200/2perc str. This intermediate seven-minute piece is a Scottish flavored fantasy, dedicated to Prince William and Kate Middleton on the event of their marriage. It gives every instrument the chance to shine. Published by Schott.

News & Resources

Carnegie Hall invites youth orchestras to post videos on their new National Youth Orchestra of the United States of American (NYO-USA) YouTube Channel, which features a playlist of youth orchestras from across the country and internationally. They are happy to subscribe to your channels and/or “like” your videos, and/or add them to their playlists, and hope you will do the same for their channel/content!

To suggest a video for inclusion, you may either post a comment on the NYO-USA channel or send a note to Sam Livingston.

Click here to check it out!

Hopefully many of you are familiar with the unified statement, Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life, which has been endorsed by national education associations as well as the arts community in asking for better arts education opportunities in our nation's schools. The messages outlined in Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life directly communicate the benefits of arts education to policymakers as they are expected to re-write the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).The League spearheaded the processes for the statement's update in 2011 and a just-completed "face lift" reflecting new research. As this statement demonstrates, there is strength in numbers and value in partnering with common stakeholders. Consider mining this statement for talking points your orchestra can use immediately in local advocacy that supports music education in your schools. Also, review the list of national signatories and consider their local members as potential partners in your education advocacy efforts.

Newly Updated - Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life
For many years, arts education advocates at the national level have been utilizing a unified statement titled
Arts Education: Creating Student Success in School, Work, and Life. The statement, endorsed by national education associations as well as the arts community, asks for better arts education opportunities in our nation's schools. The League spearheaded the processes for the statement's update in 2011 and a recently-completed “refresh” to incorporate new research to undergird the messages to policymakers about the benefits of arts education. As the statement demonstrates, there is strength in numbers and great value in partnering with common stakeholders. Orchestra advocates are encouraged to mine the unified statement for talking points you can use immediately in local advocacy that supports music education in your schools. Also, review the list of national signatories and consider their local members as potential partners in your education advocacy efforts.

Primer on Collaboration and Sustainability in Arts Education” by Thomas Wolf and Gigi Antoni
Written by two seasoned practitioners---Thomas Wolf and Gigi Antoni---this new book,
More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Collaboration and Sustainability in Arts Education is a primer on how organizations that offer arts education and creative learning programs can initiate, enter into, and support long-lasting partnerships. Vibrantly illustrated and presented in an easy-to-read format, it describes the theory and practice underlying various levels of collaboration—from organizational partnerships to mergers to community-wide systems. The book also offers inspiring, real-life examples of thriving arts education partnerships from communities large and small throughout the United States. A free PDF is also available in addition to paperback copies for purchase.

Common Core and the Arts
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a state-led initiative focused on making sure students are equipped with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in college and in their careers. For many educators – including arts instructors – the changes in expectations can be confusing. The Arts Education Partnership maintains a
growing selection of resources to help provide a better understanding of the Common Core State Standards Initiative and ways in which the arts can intersect.

Getty Education and Community Investment Grantees
In case you missed it, twenty-two innovative orchestra educational and community partnership programs from across the country were selected in November by the League of American Orchestras to receive first-year Getty Education and Community Investment Grants. You can learn more about the program and find a snapshot of the awardees

Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art
In the book, Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of Art, artistic leaders, via a series of interviews, engage in a conversation about audience, community, and the value of art. In addition to thoughtful essays, the book includes
Understanding the Intrinsic Impact of Live Theatre, the results of a two-year study composed of patterns of audience feedback in 18 theaters and 58 productions. This study was commissioned by Clayton Lord of Theatre Bay Area and was completed by Alan Brown and Rebecca Ratzkin of WolfBrown. Click here to learn more about Counting New Beans, read excerpts, and purchase the book.

Resource Center: Creating Quality
Find and share ideas and resources for improving the quality of education in your school or community at
Creating Quality, an online participatory website that offers a venue for teachers, community educators, artists, principals, researchers, nonprofit and civic leaders, policymakers, and anyone who wishes to learn how to strengthen their educational system.

The Diversity & Inclusion Resource Center
If you haven’t yet bookmarked it, we encourage you to visit the League’s
Diversity & Inclusion Resource Center, which contains hundreds of free resources that will aid you and your orchestra deepen your connections with and learn how to be more inclusive of the diverse populations in your community.

Food for Thought!

Talks and presentations you might find inspiring or provoking:




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