UPBEAT (Winter 2008)


Celebrating and Supporting American Youth Orchestras

Winter 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.


Register now for the YOD - Education & Community Engagement Mid-Year Meeting!

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

Contact the Youth Orchestra Division Board


Dear YOD Colleagues, 

This edition of UPBEAT covers a wider spectrum of topics than usual. In addition to our usual (but always interesting!) “Orchestra Notes,” there is an excellent submission to the “Maestro’s Notebook” as well as a book review on Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance

I hope you will take particular care in reading the League’s Statement of Common Cause and then follow through by endorsing the statement. And be sure to make use of the other useful links provided. 

Louis Scaglione and Jeanette Wong will bring you up to date on important issues and happenings concerning the YOD and the League. 

Wishing you health, happiness, and great success in 2008! 

Craig Johnson
Executive Director, Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra


Dear Colleagues, 

I hope this letter finds you well and having survived the first half of the season. I am unsure where time goes, and often wonder if it passes quickly because of how much I enjoy working in our field or because I am just getting older. I suspect it is a combination of both. And as we are now in January of the year 2008, it’s time to turn our attention to Detroit

I hope you will plan to join us for the Mid-Year Meeting of Youth Orchestra and Education/Community Engagement professionals in Detroit, hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The meeting will be held February 21 – 23, 2008. Please take the time to register now, if you haven’t done so already. 

In addition to dedicated meetings just for the Youth Orchestra Division, we will also participate in joint sessions with the Education/Community Engagement Division, including: Development of a Self-Assessment Resource on the topic of Civic Engagement; Parents as Advocates; Diversity Initiatives through Strategic Partnerships; Tour of the Detroit School of the Arts; and much more!    

This meeting is a valuable opportunity to share successes and challenges, to network, and to meet new friends in the field. Having attended the first Mid-Winter meeting in St. Louis and co-hosted last year’s in Philadelphia, I can recommend this as a valuable educational and professional development activity well worth your time. I do hope you will make every effort to join us in Detroit

Please click here to view the agenda and find hotel & registration information.  

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


Sign On to Support Music Education! 

Join your fellow orchestras across the country in signing onto the League of American Orchestras’ statement of common cause, Orchestras Support In-School Music Education! The League is encouraging all adult and youth orchestras to endorse this statement of common cause. To sign on, youth orchestra executive directors simply complete a short online form http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=PL0YGSqH_2f3ITfMUWbtrbVg_3d_3d.  

Does your youth orchestra agree that music is essential to a child’s complete education? 

Does your youth orchestra support better music education in our nation’s schools? 

Signing onto the statement indicates that your youth orchestra values music education for all children. The statement can also be used to stimulate conversation within your orchestra about local support for music education in the schools. Whether your youth orchestra is already involved in local music education advocacy, or plans to begin activity soon, the League is encouraging all to sign on now, take action in their own communities, and share information about their advocacy experiences.  

The statement was crafted for orchestras, by orchestras. Additionally, the League has developed tips and tools to support your local music education advocacy efforts. 

Sign on Today! 

Heather Noonan
Vice President for Advocacy
League of American Orchestras
910 17th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20006
t 202 776 0215 f 202 776 0224
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dear Youth Orchestra Division, 

Thank you for all of your welcoming messages! It has been such a pleasure meeting the members of the Youth Orchestra Division, and I look forward to our work ahead. 

The League team has been hard at work planning this year’s joint Mid-Year meeting with the Education/Community Relations constituency. The meeting is scheduled to take place February 21-23 in Detroit, and will be hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  Featured sessions include Parents as Advocates, Diversity Initiatives through Strategic Partnerships, El Sistema in the U.S., and a Tour of the Detroit School of the Arts. There will also be a performance by the Detroit Symphony Civic Orchestra and a DSO Coffee Concert. This is a great opportunity for all members of the Youth Orchestra Division to meet and learn along with colleagues doing education and community work in our adult orchestras. More information is available here. We hope to see you in Detroit!  

In addition, please be sure to save the date for the National Performing Arts Convention, June 10-14, 2008 in Denver, which will be the home of this year’s League Conference. There will be joint sessions with eighteen other performing arts service organizations, as well as Youth Orchestra meetings and Orchestra Leadership Academy seminars. Visit http://www.performingartsconvention.org to find out more.    

Happy New Year! Please feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 646-822-4019 if I can be of any assistance.  

Jeanette Wong
Youth Orchestra Division Liaison
League of American Orchestras


On January 13, 2008 the Denver Young Artists Orchestra celebrated its 30th anniversary with the premiere of Belinda Reynolds’s Thirty by 5 X 8. San Francisco-based Reynolds is DYOA’s composer in residence for the current season, thanks to a Music Alive composer residency grant from the League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. The DYAO’s two training orchestras performed preexisting works by Reynolds (Starry Things and Crossings, both for string orchestra) earlier in the season. Members of the orchestra are also preparing a Reynolds string quartet and a woodwind trio. Thirty by 5 X 8, an eight-minute work scored for large orchestra, takes its title from the orchestra’s 30th anniversary, and the work’s five chords and eight melodies that, in different permutations, generate its musical material. It is lyrical, post-minimalist music divided into episodes that Reynolds labels with descriptions such as “brutal,” “searching,” and “noble.”  Reynolds wrote this work specifically for the musicians, whom she has come to know personally.  In workshop rehearsals, musicians read through preliminary sketches of the work and participated with Belinda in her choices of orchestration. The anniversary concert program was rounded out with 20th-century classics by Barber, Ravel, and Stravinsky. The performance was broadcast live by Colorado Public Radio.   

--Submitted by Adam Flatt


The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County will be hosting the Washington Saxophone Quartet in March for a series of workshops and master classes with the 65-piece Symphonic Wind Ensemble. This event will culminate in a full evening concert by the WSaxQ wherein YOBC’s saxophone section will perform selections with the quartet. YOBC’s 70-piece Symphony Orchestra will host a master class for strings this winter by Jeffrey Solow, professor of violincello and chair of instrumental studies at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.

“Youths Rise as Trio Shines” - So began the review in the Chicago Tribune of the world premiere of Daron Hagen’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” triple concerto by the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Amelia Trio. Music Director Allen Tinkham said, “The combination of Daron’s colorful score and the communicative gifts of the Amelia Trio made this an extremely worthwhile experience.” David Arrivee and the CalPoly Symphony gave the West Coast premiere. The Northwest premiere was with the Corvallis, OR Youth Symphony and conductor Charles Creighton, who said “The composer was an inspiration to the orchestra, and both the audience and the orchestra loved the piece. … the artists willingly gave extra time to the students and the community.” The objective of this commissioning project was to create a symphonic work that was both exciting and challenging for young orchestral players. Next on this initial tour will be the Vermont Youth Orchestra with conductor Troy Peters in January.   

The Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is celebrating its 70th anniversary this season.  Founded in 1937 by Paul Katz, the 98-member DPYO is one of the nation’s oldest youth orchestras. In addition to an end-of-the-season birthday concert, upcoming performances by the DPYO include a February collaboration with three Dayton-area dance companies (“It’s a World of Dance”), a side-by-side concert with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and a very special production of Hans Krasa’s opera Brundibar featuring a collaboration between the DPYO Chamber Orchestra, the Dayton Opera, the Kettering Children’s Choir, and the Victoria Theatre Association. The DPYO and conductor Patrick Reynolds completed the first half of its season with a performance of Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture, Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia, and Howard Hanson’s Symphony No. 2, “Romantic”. 

The Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has awarded the Denver Young Artists Orchestra $50,000 through its Catalyst Partner grant program. Under the terms of the grant, the orchestra receives $50,000 each year for up to three years; the funds are used to improve infrastructure and organizational development; hire world-renowned guests soloists; and foster a partnership with the Aspen Music Festival and School’s Composition Department, one of whose young composers will write a work to be performed by DYAO. The orchestra held its 30th anniversary concert on January 13 in Boettcher Concert Hall, featuring the world premiere of a newly commissioned work, Thirty by 5 x 8, by composer Belinda Reynolds. In February, DYAO will have its annual side-by-side performance with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. 

To help defray costs for its European tour, the Empire State Youth Orchestra held a champagne brunch benefit in November before the ESYO’s first full-length concert of the season. Corporate sponsorships and individual donations grossed over $50,000, netting $360 for each musician’s tour account. Parents are also raising funds, selling $12,000 worth of Yankee Candles, for a net of $5,000. They are planning a dance and silent auction, and a restaurant night during which local eateries will donate a percentage of their sales to ESYO. The orchestra’s 2nd annual book fair yielded $3,000 - twice as much as last year’s fair. ESYO musicians performed throughout the day, music stories were read to children, and kazoo lessons were given to the young and the young-at-heart! 

The Georgia Youth Symphony, currently in its second season, will expand its scope this January with the launch of two new partnerships: with Zion Baptist Church, setting the stage for a world-music component to the orchestral experience; and with young composers throughout the Southeast, who will be guided by faculty at the University of South Carolina in getting performances and recordings of their works. Finally, students from throughout the Southeast converged early December to compete for a chance to win a solo performance with the Cobb Symphony and a solo performance with the Georgia Youth Symphony in the 2007-008 Young Artists Competition. The Young Artist Competition carried cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $325.  

The Youth Symphony of Kansas City welcomed 45 returning alumni for the 14th Alumni Concert on Saturday, December 22. While most are college students, some alumni were in the Youth Symphony 30 years ago. The alumni join the Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Steven D. Davis, in a performance featuring works by Smetana, Dvorák, and Sibelius. YSKC will present concerts for the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration Concert in Kansas City and for the Lincoln Lecture at the University of St. Mary, Leavenworth, Kansas

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras’ first concert of the season featured an appearance by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Jonathan Carney as soloist with the MCYO Philharmonic.  MCYO had master classes with Katherine Needleman, BSO principal oboe, and Ilya Finkelshtyn, BSO principal cello. Two harpists performed at the White House, as did a string quartet from MCYO. The harpists also performed at the National Institute of Health’s Childrens’ Inn. The Philharmonic concertmaster and associate concertmaster performed at the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. In January, BSO Music Director Marin Alsop will conduct an open rehearsal with the MCYO Philharmonic. 2008 will also see the beginning of a new ensemble—a chamber orchestra. 

The Greater Miami Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra of Palm Beach County will participate together in two side-by-side concerts, one in Boca Raton at  the Countess de Hoernle Auditorium, and one on Miami Beach at the Lincoln Theatre. The collaboration will involve a total of six orchestras. The beginning, intermediate, and advanced groups from each youth symphony will practice and perform together an exciting array of repertoire, showcasing the very best that South Florida young musicians have to offer. These concerts will take place March 1 and 8.  

On Friday, December 28th, the Beijing and Beyond Photo Display officially opened at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. Students, chaperones, and accompanying adults were invited to submit entries for a photo competition following the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s twelve-day tour of China. You can read more about the tour by visiting the MYSO website and clicking on http://www.myso.org/specialProjects.asp. Nearly 200 wonderful photos were submitted, all of which will be displayed. Competition winners will be announced at the opening, which is open to the public, and the exhibit will be on display through January.   

Music City Youth Orchestra, Nashville’s new eclectic youth orchestra founded in June 2007, is currently rehearsing as a string orchestra with 20 talented students in grades seven to twelve, and will present its first public concert at The Belcourt Theatre in Nashville on February 9, 2008.  Internationally renowned Tracy Silverman (“the greatest living exponent of the electric violin” – BBC) serves as MCYO’s artist in residence, and the group is led by veteran music educator, composer, and conductor Walter Bitner.  Hallmarks of the new program include a high-energy, joyful atmosphere for music-making and an eclectic approach to programming that embraces both traditional music for orchestra and alternative repertory. MCYO’s inaugural season will feature masterworks by Corelli, Elgar, and Haydn; new arrangements of rock and jazz standards by the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, and Radiohead; and traditional music from around the world. 

The Greater New Haven Youth Orchestra, part of Neighborhood Music School’s youth ensemble program, and the Connecticut Youth Symphony came together for a collaborative concert on December 16 the University of Hartford’s Lincoln Theater. The orchestras held a joint rehearsal in New Haven on December 9th, but due to inclement weather the concert had to be postponed. This was the first collaboration of these two Connecticut orchestras, and their hope is that this partnership will continue. 

John Stravinsky, grandson of the renowned composer, attended the opening performance of the New York Youth Symphony’s 45th Season at Carnegie Hall. The award-winning ensemble performed the Suite from Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird, conducted by Ryan McAdams in his debut as the NYYS’s fifteenth music director. The performance also included an appearance by William Harvey in the world première of a violin concerto by Clint Needham, commissioned through NYYS’s First Music program. The festivities culminated in the presentation of the Theodore L. Kesselman Award for Arts Education to Zarin Mehta, president and executive director of the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Mehta was presented with the award by Kenneth Mirkin, violist of the New York Philharmonic and an alumnus of the New York Youth Symphony. 

The Portland Youth Philharmonic received more than 100 applicants in its search for only the fifth conductor and music director in its 84-year-history. The pool of candidates was narrowed to four finalists who will audition during the months of January, February and March 2008.  Mei-Ann Chen was the PYP’s fourth conductor and music director, but left for a Fellowship with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra through the League of American Orchestras. Chen has since received a Taki Concordia Fellowship as well. Both Chen and Huw Edwards, the PYP’s third conductor and music director, came back to PYP to fill in as guest conductors during the interim year, along with Alastair Willis and Ken Selden. 

In the summer of 2007, the San Jose Youth Symphony Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Music Director and Conductor Yair Samet, performed five sold-out concerts on their tour of the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, and Poland. The tour included performances in many of Europe’s most eminent concert halls, among them the Dvorák Concert Hall and the Chopin and Liszt Academies of Music. The SJYS Philharmonic Orchestra also performed for local dignitaries including several U.S. ambassadors. The Honorable April Foley presented the orchestra with the Ambassador Award for Cultural Diplomacy. The SJYS Philharmonic Orchestra recently presented its first subscription concert of the 2007-08 season, showcasing three living Asian composers and performing two U.S. premieres:  Alamuhan by Chinese composer Nai-chung Kuan, and Variations on a Korean Peasant Song by Korean composer Geongong Lee. The orchestra also performed a side-by-side concert with San Jose Taiko for a performance of Folkloric Dance Suite for Orchestra by Kaoru Wada. 

In March 2008, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra will present the world premiere of a newly commissioned work, Beyond Circumstance, by Joseph Koykkar. As part of this project, the composer will present a master class for WYSO members and a free, five-week composition seminar for students ages twelve to eighteen. This project is funded in part by grants from the Madison Arts Commission, Meet The Composer’s MetLife Creative Connections program and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission with additional funds from the Madison Community Foundation, the Overture Foundation, and the American Girl’s Fund for Children.


Reaching Out: A Musician’s Guide to Interactive Performance by David Wallace, 123 pages. McGraw-Hill, $25.94 (paper). David Wallace, a frequent League of American Orchestras faculty member, has provided an invaluable manual for all musicians, classical or otherwise, who want to engage, excite, and expand audiences of any age or degree of musical sophistication. His techniques, which he has taught at orchestras world wide as well as at The Juilliard School and other conservatories, were developed from his own experience as a classical violist and Texas-style fiddler. Noting that we’ll-play-while-you-just-sit-and-listen is no longer a successful paradigm, Wallace emphasizes the need for musicians to “help audience members to perform, create, and reflect in ways that heighten their musical perceptions.” This may seem easier said than done, until you read the real-life examples scattered throughout, and the five interactive concert transcripts offered in Appendix A. Appendices B and C include an “Interactive Concert Checklist” and an annotated bibliography. This is a small book with big ideas, written by a passionate and skilled educator capable of making anyone who picks it up want to go out and open some ears!”

--Janet Waggener