About Delaware County Youth OrchestraAN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
The Delaware County Youth Orchestra is a highly selective ensemble of talented musicians most of whom are in high school. Now in its 41st season, the orchestra has 100 student members who range in age from 7th to 12th grade. This full symphony orchestra is dedicated to providing young people of exceptional ability with an opportunity to rehearse and perform major works from the standard symphonic repertoire. Three concerts are performed during the academic year.
Although the orchestra’s home base is in Delaware County, members come from throughout the tri-county area as well as from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware. For high school students interested in performance opportunities of high caliber, we invite you to visit our Auditions page to schedule an audition appointment.
In 1989, a new intermediate orchestra—the Delaware Valley Young Musicians’ Orchestra—was founded for players not quite ready for the Delaware County Youth Orchestra. The Young Musicians’ Orchestra rehearses weekly and performs two concerts during the academic year. For information about the Young Musicians’ Orchestra for younger and less advanced students, please click here.THREE CONCERTS A YEAR
The Delaware County Youth Orchestra presents three concerts a year in locations throughout the Delaware Valley, free of charge whenever possible. It has also performed at the Rose Tree Summer Festival and participated in the Festival of Youth Orchestras in the United States and Canada. The DCYO welcomes the opportunity to perform in communities where efforts are being made by school, college, or civic organizations to stimulate interest in serious music among young people. The Delaware County Youth Orchestra is incorporated under the Non-Profit Law of Pennsylvania. Financial support comes from individuals, corporations, and foundations; among these are the Donald P. Jones, the Elsie Lee Garthwaite, the Presser, and the Strine Foundations, and the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund. All contributions are tax deductible.DISTINGUISHED CONDUCTORS
In its formative years, the podium was shared by James Freeman, Eugene Narmour, Richard Wernick, and Jerome Wigler. Dr. Narmour was musical director from 1975 to 1980. He was succeeded by Rosalind Erwin, who conducted the orchestra for the next seven years. Richard Vanstone, who was also conductor of the West Chester University Orchestra, was conductor and music director from 1987 to 2002. J. Karla Lemon was conductor and music director during the 2002-2003 season. Thomas Hong, who also conducted the Haverford/Bryn Mawr College Orchestra, conducted the orchestra from 2003 to 2005. The students have also enjoyed the privilege of working under such notable guest conductors as Robert Page and William Smith.
Brad Smith was named Music Director and Conductor of the Delaware County Youth Orchestra in 2005. He is also Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has served for the past nine years. Originally trained as a trumpeter in Texas, Dr. Smith holds degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and Stephen F. Austin State University. His primary teachers were Kevin Noe, Jerry Junkin, and Kevin Sedatole.
In addition to being active as a clinician and adjudicator in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana, and Texas, Dr. Smith has served as guest conductor on the faculty of the American Festival for the Arts. He has also been a guest conductor for Orchestra 2001 in programs honoring current Penn composition faculty members and renowned composer George Crumb on the occasion of his 80th birthday. He has conducted the music of Samuel Barber for the award-winning arts program “The Front Row” on Houston PBS affiliate KUHF and has written on the topic of programming philosophies and traditional/contemporary repertoire.
In 2004 and 2012 Dr. Smith presented talks for the College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference on the topics of orchestral programming and expressive conducting. Dr. Smith maintains professional memberships in the College Orchestra Directors Association, League of American Orchestras, College Music Society, and the Conductors Guild.
DISTINGUISHED VISITING ARTISTS PROGRAM
At the suggestion of Music Director Brad Smith, the DCYO Board of Directors agreed to establish an annual guest program, where a noted performer, composer, or music educator — or a panel of several of these distinguished musicians — would discuss specific works the students were performing that semester, perhaps discuss music as a career, or conduct the students or perform as soloist with the orchestra. In its initial years the program was funded by a grant received at the end of the 2008-2009 season from an anonymous donor.
In the spring of 2009, award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon visited a DCYO rehearsal to help the students rehearse her composition blue cathedral, which the orchestra had programmed for its May 2009 concerts. During this session Ms. Higdon provided invaluable feedback about the piece, including its compositional history and the specific techniques required to perform it successfully. She described the career path that led to her success as a composer and fielded many questions in general about life as a musician. Her insights proved to be invaluable to the students in terms of interpretation and perspective.
The program extended into its second year in 2010 with an evening focusing on music as a career. Three professional musicians of varying backgrounds and specialties were invited to appear in a panel discussion for students and parents. Our distinguished guests were Min-Young Kim, violinist with the Daedalus Quartet; Richard Amoroso, first violinist in the Philadelphia Orchestra; and George Blood, audio engineer from George Blood Audio and Archives. This evening produced informal talks about the lives of professional chamber musicians, symphony orchestra musicians, and professional recording artists.
In the following year, DCYO was honored to have Don Liuzzi, Principal Timpanist, Dwight V. Dowley Chair, The Philadelphia Orchestra, as our 2011 Distinguished Visiting Artist. To begin the evening, Mr. Liuzzi played several timpani solo selections for the students. His performance was followed by an entertaining question-and-answer session, after which he conducted the orchestra in works by Glinka and Mendelssohn for the second half of the rehearsal. This memorable event marked the third in our annual series of invited distinguished visiting artists.
For the 2011-2012 season, in celebration of the orchestra’s 40th anniversary, Richard Amoroso, Robert and Lynne Pollock Chair, The Philadelphia Orchestra, was invited to be the Distinguished Visiting Artist. Mr. Amoroso performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in the two spring 2012 concerts. During rehearsals preceding the concerts, Mr. Amoroso guided the students in interpretation of the concerto and inspired them with his teaching.
In January, 2013 DCYO students were privileged to have David Kim, concertmaster of The Philadelphia Orchestra and DCYO parent, as our fifth Distinguished Visiting Artist. Mr. Kim performed a recital of Brahms excerpts with accompanist Debra Lew Harder, also a DCYO parent. After the recital Mr. Kim answered questions from the audience, reminisced about his own audition experiences, and described his career in a professional orchestra. This was an unforgettable and inspiring evening for the student musicians.
Debra Lew Harder, pianist and DCYO parent; Brad Smith, conductor; and David Kim, violinist and DCYO parent, on stage at Proclamation Presbyterian Church after a recital performed for the 2012-2013 Distinguished Visiting Artist Series.
Photo courtesy of John Tobias
PROFILE OF DCYO MEMBERSHIP
Each September, the DCYO travels to Camp Tockwogh on the Chesapeake Bay for a weekend of intense rehearsal time, as well as fun and relaxation. The Camp Tockwogh retreat helps to consolidate the orchestra as a group by bringing together new and returning students.
DCYO students come from a wider geographic area than the name implies: during the 2011-2012 season, students came from Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, and other parts of the Greater Philadelphia area. Approximately 94% of the members were high school students. Exceptionally advanced middle school students made up about 6% of the orchestra’s membership. Approximately 90% of the students attended public schools, 7% attended private schools, and 3% of the students were schooled at home. During 2011-2012, the orchestra had 104 students, of which 51% were male and 49% were female.
DCYO members tend to be high achievers, both musically and academically. Over the past few years DCYO students have been accepted at such prestigious music schools as the Cleveland Institute, the Eastman School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Northwestern University, and Peabody Conservatory and such highly selective schools as Cornell, Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, and UC Berkeley.
For information about the Delaware Valley Young Musicians’ Orchestra, please click here.
NEWSLETTERSTo download one or more DCYO newsletters, click on the following:
2006-2007 Mid-Season Newsletter