BSO Announces Creation of the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras, Effective September 1, Carrying Forward 35-year Legacy of GBYO

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The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced that, effective September 1, 2012, it will create the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO), the first time in its 96-year history that it has operated a youth orchestra. In doing so, the BSO will carry forward the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras (GBYO) 35-year legacy of exemplary musical training of the region’s most talented young instrumentalists.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced that, effective September 1, 2012, it will create the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras (BSYO), the first time in its 96-year history that it has operated a youth orchestra. In doing so, the BSO will carry forward the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras (GBYO) 35-year legacy of exemplary musical training of the region’s most talented young instrumentalists. GBYO will cease operations on August 31, 2012. Four GBYO staff including Artistic Director Ken Lam will become employees of the BSO. Current Executive Director Nana Gaskins Vaughn will join the BSO’s Education and Community Engagement staff, serving as the new general manager of the BSYO under the direction of Carol Bogash. Members of the GBYO board of directors are expected to form a new BSYO Council that will focus on advocacy and fundraising, chaired by the current GBYO Board President, Jeff Zoller, who will become an ex-officio member of the BSO’s board of directors.

In existence for 35 years and serving 250 students across four orchestras, the GBYO has a distinguished history as the region’s premier youth orchestra. It has an annual operating budget of $200,000, and enrolls young musicians ages six to 19 from across the Greater Baltimore Metropolitan area. The youth orchestra program will continue to reside in Towson, Md., with location details to be announced at a later date.

GBYO Artistic Director Ken Lam said, “Earlier this year, we approached the leadership of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra about a possible affiliation with only the best interests of our membership in mind. Our students will now have ties to a world-class music organization led by a visionary conductor in Marin Alsop, access to more sizeable resources, and be in a better position to recruit the very best talent from across the State of Maryland. We think this is a ‘win-win’ for music in Baltimore and the prospects for our growth are now stronger than ever.”

GBYO Board President Jeff Zoller said, “The GBYO and BSO have shared a strong partnership for a number of years. This represents a logical evolution in that relationship and enables even greater educational and developmental opportunities for our young musicians.”

Speaking of the transition, BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham commented, “The Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras will enrich the BSO’s growing educational and community engagement initiatives, which has been at the heart of Maestra Alsop’s tenure here. The mission of our two organizations–to bring music into as many children’s lives as possible–are very much aligned, which makes me believe that the transition will be quite seamless. Marin Alsop, our musicians, our staff and the board of directors are extremely excited to have the opportunity to take the youth orchestras to the next level. ”

Music Director Marin Alsop added, “Deepening the Orchestra’s ties to the community is incredibly important to me, and adding a youth orchestra to the BSO’s educational programming only strengthens our commitment to serve and nurture Maryland’s most talented young musicians. Also, interestingly enough, BSO clarinetist Chris Wolfe founded the GBYO in 1977, so it seems fitting to bring the youth orchestra under the wing of the BSO.”

Through the end of the 2011-12 season, the four orchestral ensembles that comprise the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras are: the Youth Orchestra, a pre-professional full orchestra now in its 35th season, which performs works from the standard orchestral repertoire as well as music by living composers, led by Artistic Director Ken Lam; the Concert Orchestra, an intermediate-level full orchestra formed in 1999, led by MaryAnn Poling; and the Sinfonia & Sinfonietta, two string ensembles for early-level string players with an emphasis on developing musical ensemble skills. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the Sinfonia & Sinfonietta Orchestras will combine to form a singular String Orchestra led by Michael Gamon.

As part of the BSYO membership, all students will have opportunities to interact with BSO musicians throughout the year, attend BSO concerts and one of its three concerts will be held at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Additionally, all three orchestras will continue to be led by their respective conductors, Maestro Lam, Maestra Poling and Maestro Gamon.

Auditions for the 2012-2013 Concert and String Orchestras will be held May 23 and 24, and auditions for the Concert and Youth Orchestras will be held on June 9 and 10. All four days of auditions will be held at Loyola University Maryland’s Evergreen (main) campus. For more information about auditions, please visit http://www.gbyomusic.org.

Bridges, a program that provides high-quality string education to youth in Baltimore City Public Schools, will continue to operate as a separate organization led by its founder director, Frances Belcher, and will not be affiliated with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

About the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras
Founded in 1977, the four orchestral ensembles which, along with the Bridges Program, comprise the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras are: the Youth Orchestra, a pre-professional full orchestra which performs works from the standard orchestral repertoire as well as music by living composers; the Concert Orchestra, an intermediate-level full orchestra; and the Sinfonia & Sinfonietta, two string ensembles for early-level string players with an emphasis on developing musical ensemble skills.

Artistically, the Youth Orchestra has continued to build upon its reputation for presenting high-quality performances of some the greatest music in the symphonic literature. In addition, the GBYO champions contemporary works. Recent seasons have featured contemporary American composers who represent a diverse cross-section of the Americas, such as Higdon, Holland, Sánchez-Gutiérrez, Britt, Ellington and Roumain–and included three local premieres (Higdon’s blue cathedral, Britt’s Inledning, and Holland’s Motor City Dance Mix).

The GBYO is supported in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive; and the Baltimore County Executive, County Council, and Commission on Arts & Sciences.

About Ken Lam
Ken Lam is the winner of the 2011 Memphis International Conducting Competition, resident conductor of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, artistic director of the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra and director of Orchestra at Montclair State University in New Jersey, having recently concluded his position as assistant conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Ken was a featured conductor in the League of American Orchestra’s 2009 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview with the Nashville Symphony and made his US professional debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in June 2008 as one of four conductors selected by Leonard Slatkin. In recent seasons he worked with the symphony orchestras of Memphis, Illinois, Meridian, St. Louis and Baltimore, as well as he Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Taipei Symphony Orchestra.

In opera, he directs productions of the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard each summer and was assistant conductor at Cincinnati Opera, Baltimore Lyric Opera and at the Castleton Festival (under Lorin Maazel). His recent production of Massenet’s Manon at Peabody Conservatory was hailed by the Baltimore Sun as a top ten classical event in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area in 2010. He will make opera debuts at the Spoleto Festival USA and at the Lincoln Center in New York later this season.

In Hong Kong, Ken has been artistic director of Hong Kong Voices since 2000 and was principal conductor of the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra until 2007.

Ken studied conducting with Gustav Meier, Markand Thakar, Marin Alsop and Edward Polochick at Peabody Conservatory, with David Zinman and Murry Sidlin at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen and at the National Conducting Institute studying with Leonard Slatkin. He read economics and law at St. John's College, Cambridge University and was an attorney specializing in asset finance for 10 years before becoming a conductor.

About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives.

The BSO made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra.

The BSO has achieved critical acclaim for its recording albums. In August 2009, the BSO and Marin Alsop released Bernstein’s Mass, which rose to number six on the Classical Billboard Charts and received a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album.

For more than 80 years, the BSO has maintained a vibrant educational presence throughout Maryland. The 2012-2013 season marks the fifth year of OrchKids™, a year-round program that provides music education to Baltimore’s neediest youngsters at no cost.

In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 30 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore, just outside Washington, DC. With its opening in February 2005, the BSO became the nation’s only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.

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Alyssa Porambo
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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