The Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra is one of several educational programs of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The Youth Orchestra provides an orchestral experience for talented young musicians in southwest Michigan. This outstanding musical experience is open to students between the 4th grade and college senior.
Under the direction of Conductors, Burke Lokey, Joe Oprea and Beth Oeseburg, the Youth Orchestra, Encore Strings and Concert Strings rehearse on Monday evenings during the fall and spring of each school year.
The orchestra performs four public concerts each year - A Fall Concert, a Holiday Concert, A Spring Concert and the ‘Side by Side’ Concert with the Southwest Michigan Symphony. The LMYO program includes scholarships to summer music camps, sectional rehearsals with members of the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra and free tickets to SMSO concerts. Membership is by audition for all three groups. Young musicians through college age are encouraged to participate.
LARGE ENSEMBLE TRAINING - the Youth Symphony rehearses Monday afternoons for two 1/2 hours from 6:00 until 8:30 pm. Members perform three or four concerts each year. The Encore Strings and Concert Strings rehearse Monday afternoons for one and a half hours from 6:00 until 7:30 pm. Members perform two concerts each year. All rehearsals take place at Upton Middle School, 800 Maiden Lane, St. Joseph, MI, 49085.
SIDE BY SIDE CONCERT - The Lake Michigan Youth Symphony and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra (SMSO) combine efforts annually for this excellent educational opportunity. Students sit next to professional musicians for the performance of a major piece of music at one of the regular classical concerts of the SMSO. The students receive instruction on the piece throughout the year, are coached by members of the the SMSO, and rehearse two times with Robin Fountain, the conductor of the SMSO. This unique collaboration has produced many thrilling and memorable performances and affords the Youth Symphony students the opportunity to experience performing in a professional concert situation
SCHOLARSHIPS - Each spring nearly $3,000 in scholarships are awarded to outstanding LMYO students for attendance at summer music camps and/or seminars. Scholarships are awarded in three categories: elementary string camp, middle school level string camp, and high school level camps. This very active and supportive scholarship program is funded primarily through private donations from individuals and businesses. An endowment program has recently been established to insure continued growth in this important program. If interested in supporting this program, call the SMSO office at 982-4030.
SECTIONAL COACHING- The LMYO engages professional musicians and music educators to work with the individual sections of all three orchestras several times a year. Students gain valuable technical and musical information from these sectionals and learn about music as a profession.
PERSONAL GROWTH- Membership in the LMYO promotes personal growth through the discipline of individual and group practice and the participation in group activities with a common goal.
LIFELONG INVOLVMENT WITH MUSIC- LMYO students are inspired toward a lifelong involvement with music whether as professional performers, music educators or members in their college and/or community music programs. FUTURE AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT - The understanding and appreciation of classical music encouraged by LMYO participation provides informed audiences for the future. All students are given “free” passes to SMSO concerts and are encouraged to attend.
AFFORDABLE AND CONVENIENT CONCERTS - The LMYO encourages appreciation and support of fine music in the community by providing concerts which are convenient to such groups as the very young, senior citizens, and those who are unable to afford the expense of professional performances.
ENHANCEMENT OF SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAMS - The LMYO enhances existing southwest Michigan school music programs and provides orchestral opportunities for those students who do not have a school music program.