This year I discovered a Valley treasure that’s nearly 70 years old. The Youth Orchestras of Fresno has been around in one form or another since 1950, but somehow I had missed it until my son auditioned in August.
Fast forward to today, and this non-profit program is one of my favorite things about our city. Not only is it an affordable way to give kids performance experience, it’s challenging and fun. There are several orchestras in the organization, including Youth Chamber Orchestra for younger kids and the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. Ages for these orchestras range from kindergarten to college, so there truly is something for everyone.
Kids learn from professional musicians
Kids from all over the valley come to this program. The Music Director is Dr. Thomas Loewenheim, a cellist and professor at California State University, Fresno. Dr. Loewenheim can be seen at weekly practices encouraging kids as they make their way through Mozart.
Auditions are held once a year, but if you have an interested musician they are welcome to sit in on a Sunday rehearsal at the Fresno State band room. If they like the experience, they can audition for admission, but not seating, which is decided in August. If you know someone who might be excited about joining, click here for more information and updates.
The beauty of the Youth Orchestras is that kids interact with professional musicians. It’s a mentorship you can’t really put a price tag on. And since it’s a non-profit organization, membership is relatively inexpensive. This means the program hosts fundraising events throughout the year, including one tonight, Nov. 2 (click here to find out more and grab last-minute tickets).
The first performance of the year will be Dec. 9 at Paul Shaghoian Concert Hall. It’s Mozart + Mahler from 4 to 6 p.m. Adam Elmore will conduct the Youth Chamber Orchestra and Dr. Loewenheim conducts the Youth Symphony and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. There’s a voluntary contribution of $10.
If you haven’t experienced a performance by the Youth Orchestras of Fresno, you will be blown away. It’s almost unbelievable how good these kids are, and honestly, just the fact they can read the sheet music, let alone play it, is impressive.
So mark your calendar for a great cause and head to a Youth Orchestras performance. You can find the entire season’s schedule here. I wish I had known about this program sooner!
Have you been to a concert? Tell me about your experience in the comments!
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