By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Recently, over 325 young musicians from central and western Oklahoma opened the 2015-2016 season of the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras. The concert was held on October 25 at the Edmond Santa Fe High School Auditorium at 1901 W 15th Street in Edmond.
Headlined by the organization’s flagship 70 member ensemble, the concert also featured the organization’s two auditioned string orchestras.
Under the direction of new Artistic Director Dr. Eric Garcia, these students, grades 3 through 12, represent Oklahoma’s finest young talent. Garcia currently serves as Director of Orchestral Studies and Associate Professor of Conducting at Oklahoma State University.
The new season highlights the contributions of American composers to the classical repertoire by first featuring Alan Hovahness.
“In addition to Hovahness’ grand Symphony No. 2 (Mysterious Mountain), the program included Franz von Suppe’s immensely exciting Poet and Peasant Overture and Edvard Grieg’s glorious ‘Triumphal March’ from Sigurd Jorsalfar,” said Dr. Garcia. “These virtuosic works reveal the incredible talents of this outstanding orchestra.”
On Sunday, November 1, Oklahoma Youth Orchestras continues its season opener at Edmond Santa Fe Auditorium with a concert at 3 p.m. featuring the organization’s honor band and youth philharmonic.
Familiar works by composers Gustav Holst, Pavel Tchesnokov and Percy Grainger will be performed.
“Each year we are amazed at the level of talent these students bring to our auditioned programs,” said Jason Edward Grife, Executive Director. “Our numbers continue to grow as the organization builds on its 38-year tradition of outstanding students and amazing music.”
Since 1977, Oklahoma Youth Orchestras has provided advanced orchestra education and performance opportunities for talented elementary, middle and high school musicians from all over the state.
More than 300 young musicians come together each year as part of the twelve programs supported by the organization.
“The Oklahoma Youth Orchestras is the name of our nonprofit organization, which encompasses our flagship ensemble The Oklahoma Youth Orchestra as well as other ensembles and programs,” said Grife.
Other OYO ensembles include the Oklahoma Youth Winds, Oklahoma Youth Philharmonic, Sinfonia, Chamber Orchestra, Festival Strings and the newest program, Rockin’ Strings.
“We strive to serve students ranging from developing string players to the most advanced high school seniors,” said Grife. “Our goal is to provide a fun, yet challenging music environment, that focuses on the development of each student to help them achieve excellence.”
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the organization is supported in part by the Oklahoma Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kirkpatrick Foundation and the League of American Orchestras. The organization is a Member Agency of Allied Arts.
Formerly known as the Guy Fraser Harrison Academy for the Performing Arts, the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras program seeks to strengthen already existing school instrumental music programs and to supplement instrumental music programs that do not include orchestra.
“The organization’s name was changed in 2010 to better reflect our stance as the premier Youth Orchestra program in the state,” Grife stated.
All ages are invited to join the OYO for their concerts. Tickets are $5 for individuals or $10 for families and are available at the door.