UPBEAT (Summer 2009)

Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Summer 2009

Letter from the Board

Hello from Jessica Balboni

Save the Date

Meet Your YOD Leadership Committee

Civic Engagement Survey: Results and Follow-Up Request

Orchestra Notes

Midori's Week in Costa Rica

Projects That Need You

Resources of Interest

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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Letter from the Board

Dear YOD Members,

I hope this correspondence finds you enjoying a tranquil summer with some respite from regular seasonal youth orchestra stresses.

As always, the League of American Orchestra Conference this past June held a cornucopia of sessions: an Orchestra Leadership Academy Seminar regarding managing and leading a youth orchestra; several sessions concerning financial considerations in these tough economic times; phenomenal performances by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Grant Park Festival Orchestra and Chorus, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; many constituency meetings; and a plethora of peer-to-peer roundtables. I’m sure those in attendance found the conference edifying and energizing. For those unable to attend, I look forward to seeing you next summer. I would also like to extend a special invitation to those who have never attended Conference to join us in Atlanta next June and plunge into energetic conversations pertaining to the youth orchestra world!

The YOD Board will be working toward accomplishing several visions and goals during the coming year. Increasing visibility and raising the profile of youth orchestras both nationally and within the structure of the League, implementing strategies to increase the membership of the YOD, reviewing and revising the strategic plan, developing new and expanding existing tools for YOD members on the League website, and reviewing our current set of guidelines will be top priority. All views and opinions concerning these visions and goals are welcome as we work together toward making the YOD and all youth orchestras a more vibrant part of the arts landscape.

Finally, please allow me to express my appreciation for the opportunity to chair the League’s YOD Board I have learned much from my association with both the League and those who are a part of the youth orchestra world. I am honored to be a part of such a multitude of dedicated individuals.

Thank you,

Melody Welsh-Buchholz
Chair, YOD Board

Executive Director, Louisville Youth Orchestra

Hello from Jessica Balboni

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are having a good summer, fitting in a little fun and sun before the fall season begins! It was terrific to see some of you at Conference, and I want to thank Charles Grode and his team from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for being such wonderful hosts! The League would like to extend a special thanks to its Youth Orchestra Division and welcome new members, including its new board chair, Melody Welsh-Buchholz. We look forward to working with the division this year to craft content that is responsive to your needs and to promote the overall goal of civic engagement in our communities.

I would also like to thank many of you for completing the civic engagement survey, an executive summary of which is included below. You may also be interested to know that the League is launching a series of webinars this October that will provide effective strategies for utilizing its civic engagement resource, On the Road to Authentic Civic Engagement, in your communities. In addition, you will be hearing from us shortly about initiating peer-exchange phone calls that will enable you to brainstorm with your colleagues via monthly phone conferences, organized by the League and moderated by members of the youth orchestra constituency.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance in any way.


Jessica Balboni
Director, Orchestral Leadership Academy
League of American Orchestras

Save the Date

Youth Orchestra Division board meeting hosted by the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra on October 23-24 in Dallas, open to all

Please join the Youth Orchestra Division for an important board meeting as we work toward our vision and goals for the coming year. Special thanks to Chuck Moore and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO) who have graciously agreed to host the meeting. In addition to the board meeting, there will be opportunities to observe the GDYO’s rehearsal as well as attend a concert at the Dallas Symphony. There are discounted rooms at the downtown Sheraton for $99 per night. For more information about attending, please contact Melody Welsh-Buchholz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More details will follow as we shape up the weekend. Thanks, and we hope to see you in Dallas!

Mid-Year 2010 and National El Sistema Symposium!

The League invites education and community engagement staff and youth orchestra leaders to attend a symposium in May on efforts inspired by El Sistema. This symposium, presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, will be held on May 7 and 8, 2010. Immediately preceding this event, the education and community engagement personnel and Youth Orchestra Division will hold its fifth annual meeting. Gretchen Nielsen, director of educational initiatives at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, urges education and community engagement colleagues to mark their calendars to attend:

“The Los Angeles Philharmonic is so pleased to be hosting the Mid-Year Meeting on May 6, 2010. This gathering is not to be missed, for in addition to exchanging ideas with your colleagues, you will have the opportunity to experience Gustavo Dudamel’s extraordinary teaching from the podium, and participate in a national symposium on El Sistema-inspired programs on May 7 and 8. I look forward to seeing you!”

Read the Latest Details About Mid-Year
Meet Your YOD Leadership Committee
At the League’s conference in June, the Youth Orchestra Division was pleased to announce its new slate of officers including Melody Welsh-Buchholz as chairman, Steven Payne as vice chairman, Robert Cooper as secretary, and Kristen Wesloh as Upbeat editor. The YOD also nominated three new members to serve—Christine Corcoran, Liza Grossman, and Marjorie Gould Hahn—would like to extend its deep thanks to Louis Scaglione for his leadership as past chairman, as well as to those whose terms have just ended: Margery Deutsch, Kenneth Nunnenkamp, and Evan Richards.

(Chair) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Executive Director, Louisville Youth Orchestra
Steven Payne
, Executive Director, Youth Orchestras of San Antonio
Robert Cooper
, Executive Director, Oklahoma Youth Orchestra

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

Elizabeth Camus
, Woodwind Ensemble Coach, The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
Manuel Capote
, Music Director & Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor, Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County Symphony Orchestra
Mary Corneil
, Executive Director, Youth Symphony of Kansas City
Christine Corcoran
, Executive Director, Greater New Orleans Youth Orchestras
Daniel D’Addio
, Music Director and Conductor, Connecticut Youth Symphony
Liza Grossman
, Executive Director & Founding Music Director, Contemporary Youth Orchestra
Marjorie Gould Hahn
, Executive & Music Director, South Florida Youth Symphony
Holly H. Hudak
, President, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
John C. McNeur
, Executive Director, Metropolitan Youth Orchestra
Luis Mojica
, Executive Director, Multicultural Music Orchestra
Charles R. Moore
, Executive Director, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
Linda Onorevole
, Executive Director, New Jersey Youth Symphony
Daniel Petersen
, Executive Director, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras
Aviva Segall
, Music Director and Principal Conductor, Omaha Area Youth Orchestras

Diane Syrcle
, Executive Director, Portland Youth Philharmonic

Past Chair/Ex Officio:
Louis Scaglione
, President and Music Director, Philadelphia Youth Orchestra

Civic Engagement Survey: Results and Follow-Up Request

The League would like to thank those who completed its survey, Non-School Based Programs Aligned with Civic/Social Goals in May 2009. The survey was designed to capture the growing trend in our field toward the creation of programs that have distinctly civic as well as artistic benefits for the community. Survey respondents were asked to describe programs that are non-school based and aligned with civic/social goals. An executive summary of survey findings, based on 264 respondents, is now available online.

Whether or not you participated in the survey, we ask that you please consider completing a short questionnaire that will help us gather additional important information about your orchestra’s civic engagement work. We are particularly interested in hearing from orchestras that have created programs with civic/social impact that can demonstrate tangible evidence affirming achievement of, or process towards, programmatic goals. Please also send compelling high resolution photos of your civic engagement work to Jessica Balboni at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

To complete the questionnaire, click on the following link:


Thank you!
Orchestra Notes
Identified by special ribbons, alumni players in their 20s, 30s, and 40s played alongside the musicians of The Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra (FL) on May 17 at the group’s 25th anniversary celebration. The concert, For the Love of Music, was held at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne. Highlights included the world premiere of two compositions by BSYO alumni. The Dracula Suite by Aaron Collins was featured alongside works by Weber, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky. Delighted audience members included parents, spouses and children of the players, as well as the general public. Afterward, the audience of 600 was invited to a pizza party sponsored by local businesses. The day also marked the retirement of longtime BSYO Music Director Joe Kreines. The BSYO will be conducting a search for a replacement in the coming months. Interested applicants should contact Executive Director Marti Upton at www.BSYO.org

The Central Illinois Youth Symphony (CIYS) (IL) performed in a side-by-side concert with the Peoria Symphony Orchestra on February 14. They performed the Gould Spirituals and Anderson’s Fiddle Faddle. The energetic group Time for Three also performed on this concert and played alongside the combined orchestra in Fiddle Faddle. This was an exciting performance for all involved. CIYS also provided live music for the Illinois State University Gamma Phi Circus on April 24 and 25. The circus is the oldest collegiate circus in the United States, established in 1929, and attracts an audience of more than 16,000. The students in CIYS learned new techniques and playing styles, having to watch the conductor for repeats and vamping to fit the needs of the circus acts. Some of the pieces they performed were the Blue Danube Waltz, Sabre Dance and the “Can-Can” from Orpheus in the Underworld.

On June 28, 2009, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ (IL) top-level ensemble returned from an exciting thirteen-day tour of Argentina and Uruguay. The Symphony Orchestra performed in some of South America’s most prestigious concert halls including Teatro Coliseo Podesta in La Plata, La Facultad de Derecho in Buenos Aires, Teatro El Circulo in Rosario and Teatro Solis in Montevideo. Programs included Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegels Lustige Streiche, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, op. 95, “From the New World,” Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, and Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 “Romantic.” Although CYSO has completed several successful tours of Europe and Asia, this is the first time the orchestra performed in the southern hemisphere.

The Abreu Fellows Program at New England Conservatory (MA), the first initiative of El Sistema USA, launched a tuition-free postgraduate program for musicians interested in becoming ambassadors of El Sistema. A new website, www.elsistemausa.org, gives details on the program, which will admit eighteen musicians, housed at New England Conservatory, to spend a year studying in Boston and Caracas. Musicians receive guided internships with public programs that serve at-risk youth, followed by a required year working to advance or found an El Sistema program outside Venezuela. The website serves as a portal to promote the Abreu Fellows and as a support and advocacy network for those interested in El Sistema and creating El Sistema-inspired programs in the United States. The curriculum, teaching materials, and program documentation is available free of charge at the website. Earlier this year, Abreu received a $100,000 TED Prize, which he used to help fund the program.

As the culmination of a year-long residency, the Great Falls Symphony’s Youth Orchestra (MT) performed the premiere of To the Mountain, a commissioned piece by Grammy-nominated composer and pianist Philip Aaberg. Mr. Aaberg worked with the GFSYO for over a year, crafting the new piece, appearing as guest artist with the orchestra on their fall concert, and including students in the compositional process. To the Mountain was premiered on March 22, 2009, and was commissioned in honor of the Great Falls Symphony’s 50th Anniversary Season.

The Jackson Symphony Youth Orchestra (TN), invited their alumni to join current members for a special performance celebrating ten years of the orchestra’s existence. Alumni were contacted through mailings and through a Facebook page dedicated to the reunion. The concert, which was held at Liberty Technology High School on Saturday, May 23, included selected works performed by the JSYO during the previous decade. Former conductor Tom Grant and current conductor Elizabeth Weimer shared the podium. Funds raised through ticket sales benefited youth orchestra scholarships and summer music camp. Amro Music’s sponsorship of the concert covered concert production costs. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Weimer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MD) closed out their season with the Sinfonia and Chamber Strings performing at the Kennedy Center’s Haydn festival. The Percussion Ensemble and Brass Quintet performed at the closing concert in the Music Center at Strathmore, along with the Philharmonic, Symphony and Young Artists. Master classes led by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s Igor Yuzefovich and National Philharmonic guest artists Nicolas Kendall, Cho-Liang Lin, and Soovin Kim were a great success. MCYO’s touring orchestra is preparing to embark on a tour to Vienna and Prague, beginning with a performance at the Austrian Embassy. And finally, MCYO is very excited about the creation of a new Chamber Orchestra, a 60-member group under the baton of Maestro Pablo Saelzer. The new orchestra will consist of top high school wind and string players (grades 9-11) and will be working closely with Artistic Advisor Jonathan Carney and other prominent guest artists.

The Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PA), under the direction of Daniel Meyer, presented the world premiere of Mary Lou - Four Symphonic Memories of Mary Lou Williams by John Harbison on May 3, 2009. The piece was commissioned by PYSO in honor of Emeritus Director Agnes Dodds Kinard and it was funded by the Bergstrom Foundation. Mary Lou Williams was an eminent jazz pianist and composer who was born and raised in Pittsburgh. John Harbison’s Pittsburgh connection dates back to 1981-1983 when he was composer-in-residence of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The Youth Orchestras of Essex County (NJ) traveled to Austria June 26 – July 5, 2009, performing in concert halls from Vienna to the Austrian Alps. “These young musicians will be playing in the birthplace of classical music and will come home with musical memories that last a lifetime,” said YOEC Music Director Louis Kosma just before the trip began. Mr. Kosma, who also conducts YOEC’s Junior Symphony, led the performances with Karen Conrad, conductor of YOEC’s Essex County Symphony Orchestra, and Murray Colosimo, YOEC’s Director of Woodwinds, Brass and Percussion. The group joined a 200th anniversary celebration of the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, a lifelong Austrian who died in 1809. The traveling orchestra played a special Bon Voyage concert at Seton Hall University in South Orange, on June 14. YOEC (www.yoec.org), the state’s longest operating youth orchestra, has been making music for more than 50 years.

Midori's Week in Costa Rica

In late June 2009, Midori spent a week in collaboration with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica (OSN), a residency project that included concerts and community engagement programs. During this time, Midori learned about and witnessed the activities of SiNEM, Costa Rica’s National System of Music Education (part of the Ministry of Culture and Youth), a nationwide initiative to improve the lives of the nation’s young people through music education.

SiNEM was launched three years ago by Costa Rica’s Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning President Óscar Arias Sánchez, and is based on El Sistema, Venezuela’s music education program. El Sistema founder José Antonio Abreu was a consultant in the development of Costa Rica’s SiNEM. Midori visited two successful SiNEM schools in Desamparados and Pavas, towns with high crime and low income levels, located 30 minutes from San José.

Read More About Midori’s Visit (select the NEWS section)
Projects That Need You
Secretary Duncan Voices Support for Arts Education

This is the moment to make the case for arts education in your community! Your orchestra and arts advocates nationwide have some fresh talking points to leverage, courtesy of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Three sources provide valuable quotes endorsing the legitimacy of the arts as a core academic subject of learning:

  • An August letter from Secretary Duncan to school leaders emphasizes that the arts are a core subject of learning and that states and localities can use federal funds to support the arts.
  • Remarks by Duncan in an August 18 teleconference sponsored by NAMM and Supportmusic.com confirm that arts education can help meet national education goals of closing the acheivement gap and raising the bar on student and school performance.
  • On the occasion of the June release of the Nation’s Arts Report Card, Secretary Duncan said, “We can and should do better for America’s students.”

As students in your community head back to school, gear up to advocate for music education. Check out our Music Education Advocacy Tools, read our tips for launching your advocacy effort, and make sure your orchestra has endorsed the League Statement of Common Cause in support of in-school music education!

Call for Chapter proposals: 20UNDER40

20UNDER40 is an anthology that will seek to address the impending generational shift in leadership in the arts and arts education by collecting twenty essays about the future of the field from young and emerging arts professionals under the age of forty. 20UNDER40 is interested in publishing essays focused on a wide range of topics and would like to include forward-thinking theories, visions, and models for 21st Century arts and arts education. Successful chapter proposals, due August 31, 2009, will do any or all of the following: identify a problem within the field and pose a solution; highlight a need and articulate a new vision; debunk an accepted theory or practice and posit a new one. Please find more information about this project on the website: www.20UNDER40.org

Resources of Interest

Career Information Now Available at the League’s Career Center

Interested in exploring career options in orchestra management? Do you have friends, family, or students who you think would be a great fit in the orchestra field? For those who love music and who are looking for alternatives to a performance career, the League has a new section online—Career Center—that has useful information, guidance, and lots of examples of different jobs working for orchestras. In addition, free career advice is available through the League’s Informational Interview program. Click here to visit the Career Center today!

Accessing Stimulus Funds for Arts Education

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has expanded funding opportunities that could be made available to assist providers of arts education. Americans for the Arts recently released a resource guide that outlines programs and policies to help arts education advocates understand and access stimulus funds.

Nation’s Report Card Reveals Barriers to Student Achievement in the Arts

On June 15, the U.S. Department of Education announced the results of the 2008 Nation’s Arts Report Card, detailing how much eighth-grade students know and are able to do in music and the visual arts. The results, officially known as the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts (NAEP) reveal barriers to student achievement in the arts, with significant racial/ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic gaps. The League is working with national partners, including the Arts Education Partnership, to analyze the report results and make resources available to help orchestras understand and communicate the results in the context of their own communities. A complete analysis is underway, but initial resources are available in the meantime for your use.

Chorus America Releases National Research on Choral Singing

Chorus America has released The Chorus Impact Study, which contains the results of its latest research documenting the benefits of choral singing and its impact on children, adults, and communities. The study shows that choruses are beneficial even beyond the music and audiences they serve, and these benefits are particularly relevant in addressing challenges in today’s society. The results from this 2009 report support earlier findings that choral singers exhibit increased social skills, civic involvement, volunteerism, philanthropy, and support of other art forms, when compared with non-singers. The entire report, an executive summary, and the national press release are all available on the Chorus America website.

On the Road to Authentic Civic Engagement

The League’s self-assessment tool—On the Road to Authentic Civic Engagement: An Assessment Resource for Orchestras in Their Communities—is now available to every League member orchestra. The tool is a diagnostic resource (not a report card) designed to help orchestras give serious thought to their role in the community and to help them assess their own readiness for growth and improvement. It is designed to help orchestras better understand their current state through the lens of their civic role; their educational, community, and artistic profile; and the public perception of their orchestra. It invites orchestras both to look inside themselves, and to engage others less involved with the orchestra in deep and honest analysis and conversation. Visit the League’s website for further information about the tool, which is 50 percent off for a limited time. Please stay tuned for more details about upcoming webinars on how to use this resource.

The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible (Oxford University Press)

America’s first-ever how-to book on teaching artistry has been published, aimed at longtime practitioners and beginners alike. Eric Booth’s The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible includes useful guidance on such issues 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, making this guide more necessary than ever. Already widely endorsed by the arts community, 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 From the Wallace Foundation: Engaging Audiences

Engaging Audiences, a report on a recent Wallace Foundation conference, describes how arts organizations can build their audiences even in a tough economic climate.

In several U.S. cities, institutions including schools, arts groups, and public agencies are banding together to improve arts learning for children citywide. You can find a series of slideshows from a recent conference exploring these “coordinated efforts” at AEQ: Access, Equity and Quality in Arts Learning.