Reno Philharmonic training next generation of musicians

The Youth Symphony Orchestra gives a high-level orchestral experience to aspiring student musicians in the region.

The Youth Symphony Orchestra gives a high-level orchestral experience to aspiring student musicians in the region.

What do you get when you combine 58 string instrument student musicians with 11 woodwind, 12 brass, and 4 percussion musicians ages 12-18? You get the talented members of the Reno Phil Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO), who will share a once-in-a-lifetime experience on May 27, 2016, when they perform onstage at Carnegie Hall in New York City — a stage where countless numbers of music legends have stepped before them.

The concert tour to New York City will give the YSO members the chance to experience first-hand what it is like to be a traveling musician, learn discipline through hours of practice, learn to perform extremely difficult music, which raises their level of knowledge and musicianship skills, and play an additional joint concert with an area youth orchestra.

As the most advanced of three youth orchestras the Reno Phil offers to aspiring student musicians in the region, the YSO performs complex symphony repertoire. The other two orchestras are the Youth Concert Orchestra (YCO), a preparatory orchestra for students who are not quite qualified for the more advanced YSO; and the third and newest youth orchestra is the Youth Strings Symphonia (YSS), formed in collaboration with Washoe County School District to serve the large number of young string players in the community in grades 4-8.

The Youth Orchestra program is open to children of all backgrounds, and they are chosen to participate by open auditions. Children who are unable to pay tuition for the program are provided scholarships. Many of the children travel regularly 100 miles or more to attend the weekly rehearsals and training.

The program started more than 20 years ago and today there are 240 students participating, helping to increase their knowledge of classical music compositions, composers and instruments. They receive section coaching by professional orchestra members and they get to work with high-level guest conductors. The students are offered the opportunity to attend concerts by the Reno Phil Orchestra at no cost through Symphony for Students.

Ten percent of the Reno Phil professional orchestra are former Youth Orchestra musicians, and this kind of experience is an investment in the Reno Phil and the region’s future.

The Youth Orchestra program is one of five music education programs the Reno Phil provides to the region’s children. Each year, more than 25,000 students, from kindergarten through high school, experience music education through Discover Music, Family Concert, RPA Kids, Youth Orchestras and the Young People’s Concerts.

Many of the elementary students who participate in the five programs are under served and receive free or reduced lunches (Title 1 At Risk) and most do not have the financial capability to attend concerts or take private music lessons.

Not only does the organization provide music education, but the professional orchestra performs with many internationally known guest artists throughout northern Nevada and northeastern California in various indoor and outdoor venues and is currently in its 47th season with Music Director/Con ductor Laura Jackson at the helm.

For more information on how you can help the Youth Symphony Orchestra get to Carnegie Hall please contact Jane Raley, development director (jraley or Heather Gallagher, Youth Orchestra manager (hgallagher@reno at 775.323.6393, or visit the website at


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