A fledgling youth orchestra received a boost through an innovative partnership and support. In 2011, the Guelph Symphony Orchestra (GSO) and Guelph Youth Music Centre (GYMC) teamed up to provide financial backing and ongoing mentorship to 32 Guelph-area youth in striking a new Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra. A grant of $6,000 through The Guelph Community Foundation’s Musagetes Fund – dedicated to performing, visual and literary arts excellence in Guelph and area – helped to get this thriving partnership off the ground.
Guelph’s youth music scene has long been supported in the city, with roots stemming back to 1978 when the Guelph Youth Orchestra was first launched by the Guelph Arts Council. After a decade hiatus, a generous anonymous donation saw the orchestra’s revival in 2008, however, it soon began to struggle as funding dwindled. A GYMC Board member reflects, “a three-year effort of GYMC to develop a youth orchestra on its own was ending in failure and not attracting enough members to be self-sustaining”. In an effort to keep a youth symphony alive, a partnership was struck.
Partnership with the GSO and GYMC provided the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra a solid start through:
• Mentoring and hands-on coaching from top symphony performers;
• Access to the GYMC’s stunning recital hall;
• Increased exposure, credibility and publicity via GSO’s ongoing marketing efforts;
• Collaborative performances with the GSO at Guelph’s prestigious River Run Centre(and for top youth players, appearance in regular GSO concerts).
Seasoned symphony players spent countless hours coaching budding performers. Catherine Molina, Chair, Guelph Symphony Orchestra Artistic Committee, describes with pride the dedication GSO members had in seeing the venture succeed. “Providing immediate feedback and real time experience is the best training”, comments Catherine. She recalls in particular GSO’s principal timpani player attending almost every rehearsal to mentor the youth orchestra’s young percussionist. “She is now a skilled and confident player”, says Catherine, “overall the Youth Orchestra has been an absolute success musically and fiscally with 32 dedicated and enthusiastic members”.
During the 2011/2012 season the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra gave three full orchestra concerts, including a Christmas-themed flash mob performance at Stone Road Mall. Demonstrating their merit, they also snagged the top scholarship in the ensemble category at this year’s Kiwanis Music Festival for their performance of Oscar Morawetz’s Carnival Overture – the same piece performed alongside their mentors at one of GSO’s collaborative concerts.
Celebrating a highly successful debut season, the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra has established the financial footing to play on and continue enriching the lives of Guelph’s youth and contributing to the city’s vibrant cultural scene. Watch for performance details throughout the season.
Photo above: Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra Group & Bassonist