Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spotlight: Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association

This is the second in our Spotlight series in which we have invited folks from some of the Pikes Peak region's diverse arts groups to tell us what they do, who they work with, and what they're all about. You may have seen the banners in downtown Colorado Springs advertising the 30th anniverary of the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. Today we give you a behind-the-scenes snapshot of this venerable institution. This post was written by David Sckolnick, Marketing Consultant for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony.

At the age of 30, we reach a time in our lives when the previous three decade's trials and tumbles make way for genuinely powerful and consistent accomplishment. The Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association is celebrating that birthday this year, but the experiences and accomplishments of many of the aspiring musicians who have been a part of our program go beyond what is considered normal in the classic model of the human growth curve.

"I love being able to play with people that share my passion for music."

For three decades the CSYSA has been shaping young musicians. As part of this year's celebration we're reaching out to our musicians, folks in their 40s, 30s, 20s and teens to see what our program has meant to the lives of our musicians. The Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association provides high quality, diverse instrumental music education to youth and is a resource to the community. CSYSA is comprised of 7 auditioned groups (2 full orchestras, 2 bands and 3 string orchestras), a Mozart String outreach program and a chamber ensemble program. CSYSA serves over 450 musicians a year in these programs (once a week rehearsals/classes minimum). Musicians come primarily from the Pikes Peak Region and musicians come from more than 60 different schools and outlying communities.

"What I like best about Youth Symphony are the friendships I've made. Through tours, rehearsals and concerts, the other musicians become your second family. I'm thankful to the organization for integrating wonderful musicians from many different schools--without Youth Symphony I never would have met these amazing people. The music is great, too!"

The Colorado Springs Youth Symohony provides an experience outside the schools to offer outstanding musicians real-world orchestral experience. Unfortunately, in our society, money is more frequently alllocated for ahtletics programs than music programs in public schools. It's true that athetic team experiences inspire great camaraderie and growth for young people as they move through the ups and downs of a competitive season. Some of the athletes even spend hours practicing on their own in weight rooms and working on their sport. But the hours spent mastering a violin, trumpet or bassoon may match and in many cases exceed how a high school linebacker or a point guard in basketball gets his or her body and mind prepared for a challenging opponent. And alongside the discipline, devotion, camarederie and growth nurtured by the experience of playing in an orchestra, a crash course in Bach, Mozart and Beethoven expands the minds and spirits of young people.

These young people also act as ambassadors for our community. The Youth Symphony tours internationally every other year as an ambassador of our city and country-they have performed in China, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Spain, Czech Republic, Carnegie Hall, and others!

For some of the musicians, playing with the Youth Symphony is the only chance they have to play with other musicians. One young musician says, "The Colorado Springs Youth Symphony is the highlight of my week. It is well worth the 200-mile drive each week. I have really grown as a musician being able to play with such talented kids. Gary Nicholson is an outstanding conductor who challenges me to do my very best." This student drives TWO HUNDRED MILES every week! That's dedication.

"I like losing myself in the music. When I play with all of the instruments, I feel like I am all of the instruments!"

But the benefits of being part of our program extend beyond their time in the ensemble. Although some alums do choose to pursue professional careers, many continue playing their instruments in a part-time community setting. But more importantly, our musicians go on to become one of the most vital component of the arts - the audience! Our cellists and trombonists of today will go on to attend symphony and chamber music concerts and other arts events in the future. The love of music they learn while in CSYSA will make sure that classical music keep sounding off on their loudspeakers and earbuds. It's just a little truth we have learned at Youth Symphony - music is a lifelong "sport" in which its players just get better and better, regardless of how their bodies wear down over the decades.