UPBEAT (Summer 2008)

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

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

Contact the Youth Orchestra Division Board


Dear YOD Colleagues, 

I’m pleased to introduce myself as the new editor of Upbeat. While I’m relatively new to the youth orchestra field, I’ve worked with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Opera Boston, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and have been greatly inspired by my work with the next generation of orchestra musicians at the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. 

Craig Johnson set the bar high as the outgoing editor of Upbeat. I hope to provide the same level of service to all of you and look forward to reading your submissions and hearing suggestions you may have for the future of this e-newsletter. 

Have a great summer! 

Kristen Wesloh
Upbeat Editor
Director of Development and Marketing, Minnesota Youth Symphonies


Dear Friends, 

I hope you are finding the summer months relaxing, rejuvenating, and that you are well on your way towards planning another successful season with your youth orchestra programs. 

This issue of Upbeat comes on the heels of the National Performing Arts Convention and the League’s national conference in Denver. I’d like to thank the League’s staff for organizing an extraordinary conference. Each year that I attend, our conferences continue to get better. I’d also like to thank Mary Corneil and Robert Cooper for serving as the Youth Orchestra Division Conference Co-Chairs. 

This month, we must say thank you to three retiring Board members. Each has served two consecutive three-year terms: Kristine Purrington, executive director, Albuquerque Youth Symphony; Craig Johnson, executive director, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra; and Randy Swiggum, music director, Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra. Their contributions to the YOD and the Board have been invaluable, and we hope they continue to be involved with the YOD and the League. 

I would like to welcome three new members of the Board: Kristen Wesloh, director of development and marketing, Minnesota Youth Symphonies; Charles Moore, executive director, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestras; and Linda Onorevole, executive director, New Jersey Youth Symphony. Please join me in welcoming them, and I look forward to working with them as productive members of our Board. 

I am honored to begin my third year as Youth Orchestra Division Board Chair, and my ninth year on the Board. It has been a fantastic tenure, and I look forward to continuing our good work. I will be working directly with Allison Ball, director of leadership training and recruitment at the League of American Orchestras; Russell Jones, the League’s vice president for marketing and membership development; and League President and CEO Jesse Rosen on developing programming, marketing, and advocacy strategies to better support the important work we all do in our youth orchestra field. I have confidence that the League is committed to our work and will continue to find creative means to lend support. 

On a final note, I’d like to direct your attention to the League’s web site, specifically the Gold Baton Award. I was deeply honored to have accepted this award on behalf of all my colleagues in the youth-orchestra field. We should all be very proud of our individual accomplishments. Congratulations. 

I look forward to working with you this coming season.  

With all my best regards, 

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


The Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra of Bellevue, Washington is sponsoring a composition contest for fall 2008. Five works may be chosen, one for each of the BYSO divisions, with performance scheduled for spring 2009. Compositions written for commission and compositions that have been submitted for publication will not be accepted. Materials must be postmarked by September 29, 2008. The winners will be announced at the BYSO Holiday Concert in December, 2008. Winners receive BYSO publicity, first performance, and a cash prize. Anyone interested in entering or receiving more information can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To conclude the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras’s (BYSO) 50th anniversary season, the organization’s premier orchestra, the Boston Youth Symphony, traveled to the Czech Republic and Germany for the BYSO’s 19th international tour this summer. The 120-member ensemble performed at the acclaimed Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Germany, as part of that venue’s International Youth Orchestra Series. Prior to departing for the two week international tour, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra’s premier orchestra debuted a commissioned work by alumnus Robert Beaser entitled “Evening Prayer” in June 2008. Beaser (BYSO alumnus from 1972) conducted his first composition when he was a member of the BYSO at age 16; today he is the Professor and Chairman of the Composition Department at Julliard. The BYSO commissioned this piece in celebration of its 50th anniversary season.  

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras was thrilled to perform the Illinois premiere of Ricardo Lorenz’s “Rumba Sinfonica” with Grammy-nominated Tiempo Libre on May 31, 2008. The piece, which blends classical and contemporary Cuban music, delighted a crowd of 4,500 people at Chicago’s famous Ravinia Festival. This “Latin Dance Night” concert also included performances by Luna Negra Dance Theater and a dance contest featuring members of the Ravinia audience on the lawn. It was truly a captivating event that had both young and old alike up on their feet, moving to the infectious Latin rhythms. 

The Connecticut Youth Symphony, under Music Director Daniel D’Addio, recently performed their spring concert under the auspices of the University of Hartford’s Hartt School Community Division. The performance repertoire included Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3, Paul Hindemith’s Der Schwandreher with CYS Concerto Competition winner Kim Martin, viola, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. 

The first ever performance of a piece commissioned for its young musicians highlighted “Integration Celebration,” the Cross Timbers Youth Orchestra’s (CTYO) final concert of the spring season at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson, Texas. The evening also featured special guest performances by jazz recording artist Adonis Rose and the Thrascher Saxophone Quartet. The CTYO was joined by professional musicians for a performance of The Tree, by Jamie Allen, director of education for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The story, narrated by internationally recognized children’s entertainer Eddie Coker, was conceived and developed by Allen and a team of CTYO musicians. The piece was designed to allow CTYO’s orchestras to perform with professional musicians and integrated a variety of styles from jazz to classical music. 

Empire State Youth Orchestra received two 2008 ASCAP/League of American Orchestras Awards: first place for the Youth Orchestra Award for Adventurous Programming and the rarely given Award for American Programming on Foreign Tours. ESYO distinguished itself in the latter category by featuring a program of American music including a commission by Dr. Samuel Adler, and by bringing Dr. Adler on tour to introduce his piece to European audiences. Dr. Adler’s composition, A Bridge to Understanding, was premiered by ESYO at its New Music festival in March, along with eight premieres by nine other composers. ESYO Music Director and Youth Orchestra conductor Helen Cha-Pyo commented, “There is a perception that European audiences may not enjoy a program of American music, but the reception we received was overwhelmingly positive. Our young musicians crossed ‘a bridge to understanding’ by sharing American music and ‘their’ composer, and seeing how all music transcends cultural barriers.” 

The 2007-08 season marked the 35th anniversary of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. The sold-out season finale concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis featured commissioned pieces from composers Stephen Paulus and Shelley Hanson and a 170-voice choir performing music from popular films The Phantom Menace and Saving Private Ryan with the MYS Repertory Orchestra. In addition to the 35th anniversary, MYS celebrated twenty years of leadership by Co-Artistic Directors Manny and Claudette Laureano. Together, they have grown the program from one orchestra of 58 students to four orchestras, summer classes, and community engagement programs serving more than 500 students annually. 

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras announced that BSO concertmaster E. Jonathan Carney will serve as Artistic Advisor to MCYO. In this position, Carney will collaborate with staff to shape the organization’s artistic vision, facilitate professional partnerships with guest artists, and work directly with MCYO musicians and conductors. “I am honored to assume the new Artistic Advisor role,” commented Carney. “Creating and promoting musical opportunities for young people has long been a priority for me, and given that the BSO and MCYO already have close ties through their residencies at Strathmore, the Artistic Advisor position is a wonderful partnership for all involved. I’m looking forward to working with the students to develop their musical potential, and to working with staff to elevate MCYO’s already prominent stature.” Carney and Levin are planning some exciting events for next season, including a Concertmaster’s Master Class on September 25, 2008. 

The New York Youth Symphony concluded its 45th anniversary season with a host of memorable events. In a new partnership, the NYYS and the American Composers Orchestra teamed up for a reading project called “Orchestrations” in which ACO musicians provided professional feedback to the young composers in the Making Score program who orchestrated compositions for the reading. The next occasion was certainly one to celebrate as Executive Director Barry Goldberg marked his 25th year with the New York Youth Symphony. The event honoring Goldberg was held at the Century Club in Manhattan and was attended by friends of Goldberg and supporters of the New York Youth Symphony. 

The Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes is proud to announce the winner of the Doreen B. Hertzog Young Artist Competition 2008. The Hertzog Competition is for student in grades 9 through 12. Colin Lu, a pianist from Vestal, NY will perform a concerto or aria with the Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes on March 22, 2009 at the Clemens Center in Elmira, NY. This competition is sponsored by Chemung Canal Trust.

The Youth Symphony of Kansas City featured pianist Richard Cass in its annual Guest Artist Concert on Sunday, April 27. Cass performed Beethoven’s Piano Concert No. 5, “Emperor,” with the Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Conductor Steven D. Davis. Cass, Professor Emeritus at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City, has an active performance career with recitals, orchestral appearances, recordings, chamber music, and residencies at prominent universities and conservatories.


The Youth Symphony of Kansas City performed Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral in October 2007. The work is Higdon’s reflection on her brother’s untimely death, though in a hopeful way. A work for symphony orchestra, it ends with a quiet rustling of bells shaken softly by each orchestra member. In musicality and emotional content, it is an excellent work for young musicians. 

Stephen D. Davis
Conductor, Symphony Orchestra
Youth Symphony of Kansas City


Dear Youth Orchestra Division, 

It was wonderful to see so many of you in Denver for the National Performing Arts Convention and the League’s Annual Conference. Many thanks to our Youth Orchestra Division Conference Co-Chairs, Robert Cooper and Mary Corneil, and our YOD Chairman, Louis Scaglione, for their leadership in planning our youth orchestra sessions. And congratulations to all of the YOD on the Gold Baton! Each of the League’s member youth orchestras will be receiving a certificate and a copy of the remarks given by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia at the presentation of the award.  

Our youth orchestra session in Denver, “El Sistema in the U.S.” sparked a great conversation regarding the networking power of American youth orchestras. Following NPAC’s theme of “Taking Action Together,” the League is preparing to release the Statement of Common Cause supporting in-school music education. It would make an even stronger impact if we could say that it had been endorsed by 100% of our youth orchestras. If you have not done so already, click here and sign on!  

I am pleased to announce that the San Francisco Symphony will be hosting our next joint Mid-Year gathering with the Education/Community Engagement constituency, which is scheduled to take place February 6-8, 2009. More information will be available soon, so be sure to keep an eye on the Youth listserv, as well as www.americanorchestras.org. 

Finally, as you have heard, Jesse Rosen has become the League’s new president and CEO. Jesse is committed to developing his relationship with the YOD as he assumes this position. Henry Fogel will continue his visits with orchestras, helping with a wide range of topics and issues, such as board retreats and strategic planning. If you are interested in having Henry visit your youth orchestra, please be sure to ask, as all of his visits are by invitation. Many requests for his visits come early, and a good portion of next season is already filling up, so be sure to let us know well in advance of your request time. You can email Britany Leddy in Henry’s office (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), or me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) about scheduling a visit.  

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or if I can be of any assistance. Happy summer! 

Jeanette Wong
Youth Orchestra Division Liaison
League of American Orchestras

To subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your e-mail address, please send your name, title, orchestra or organization name, mailing address, and e-mail address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put "UPBEAT" in the subject line

League of American Orchestras
33 West 60th Street, Fifth Floor
New York, NY 10023-7905