York Youth Symphony Orchestra
The York Youth Symphony Orchestra has added a sparkling dimension to York’s cultural scene ever since its first concert in the spring of 1957.
A. Reginald Fink, its first conductor, was followed by Holman James, George Waldman, James Christian Pfohl, Madilyn Klepper, Catherine Overhauser, Dr. Robert Hart Baker and Wayne Allen Romer – all with the special talent for eliciting the best performances from their young musicians.
With the retirement of Mr. Romer in 2007, the YYSO began its 51st season with a new conductor, Maestro Gregory Woodbridge. With his superb Penn State training, Maestro Woodbrige brought his expertise in violin, piano and conducting, promising to continue the excellence that has always been associated with this outstanding organization.
Just as each previous conductor has brought new challenges and achievements to the orchestra–e.g. Dr. Baker and the Heinz Hall and Carnegie Hall performances, and Wayne Romer with his visionary and highly successful collaborative concerts–the YYSO looks forward to new traditions and old friends.
The Orchestra, a charter member of the Cultural Alliance of York, is governed by a Board of Directors composed of music educators, parents of orchestra members and interested members of the community. It arranges the concerts, organizes fundraising events and provides service and support as needed to keep this successful organization running smoothly.
By 1971, there were so many young musicians seeking a place in a youth symphony orchestra, that the York Junior Symphony Orchestra was formed for students in grades 5-8. The YYSO is comprised of approximately 90 musicians in grades 9-12, representing 15 public school districts and private schools, as well as home schooled students from York County and beyond.
Auditions are held annually. Students desiring to become a member of the orchestra, including all current members, must audition each year. Rehearsals are held on Saturday mornings from September through April. Three public concerts are presented each year. A Concerto Competition for the orchestra members is held each fall. The orchestra member who is awarded first place performs their selection with the orchestra in the spring concert.
Today, many YYSO alumni are pursing a variety of musical careers in conducting, composing, performing on all levels, and especially, educating the next generations of musicians and aficionados. One highlight of the 50th anniversary was the performance of “Jubilee,” a board-commissioned piece composed and orchestrated by Chris Massa, a YYSO alumnus.
Having celebrated its 50th anniversary, the YYSO is proud to have reached this important milestone. Looking ahead to the celebration of its 100th anniversary, the YYSO is planning now to ensure that the organization will endure and prosper. The goal remains the same— to increase opportunities for young, talented, orchestral musicians in the greater York area to develop their skills and perform for live audiences through participation in an exceptional orchestral experience. The YYSO has been, and will continue to be, that exceptional experience.
Some of the critical components to the continuing success of the YYSO are: enhancing the dedication and effectiveness of the Board of Directors, strengthening the commitment of the orchestra members, increasing revenues, maintaining and growing the endowment fund, and expanding the awareness of the YYSO in the region through cooperation and the collaborative efforts of the Cultural Alliance of York and its members.