BSO to launch training ensembles, taking over from Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras
After 35 years, the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras, an educational enterprise involving multiple ensembles, will officially dissolve on Aug. 31, to reemerge on Sept. 1 as the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Former GBYO employees, including artistic director Kenneth Lam, will become employees of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which has not previously had an orchestral training program.
“The idea of having a youth orchestra had not been on our radar until folks from the GBYO approached us in January,” said BSO president and CEO Paul Meecham. “But having worked at the San Francisco Symphony, which has a youth orchestra, I always had in the back of my mind that a youth orchestra would be a natural thing for the BSO to do.”
The GBYO, founded in 1977 by BSO clarinetist Chris Wolfe, has about ...
The budget for the GBYO has been about $200,000. Approximately half of the money is raised from tuition, the rest from private contributions and grants from national, state and city agencies. “We hope those grants will stay in place,” Meecham said.
In a statement released Sunday, Lam said the the creation of the BSYO means that “our students will now have ties to a world-class music organization led by a visionary conductor in Marin Alsop [the BSO's music director], access to more sizable resources, and be in a better position to recruit the very best talent from across the State of Maryland.”
GBYO board president Jeff Zoller described the deal with the BSO as “a logical evolution.” He will become an an ex-officio member of the BSO’s board of directors.
The GBYO's current executive director Nana Gaskins Vaughn will join the BSO’s education and community engagement staff. Other conductors currently with the GBYO will continue with the BSYO. A new council formed by members of the GBYO board will take on the duties of fundraising and advocacy for the new organization.
Students in the BSYO will have increased interaction with BSO musicians and will get to attend BSO concerts.
Alsop is expected to work with the youth orchestra at some point in the future, Meecham said. In a statement, Alsop said that the addition of a youth orchestra reflects her goal of “deepening [the BSO's] the ties to the community ... and strengthens our commitment to serve and nurture Maryland’s most talented young musicians.”
The youth orchestra complements other BSO's educational initiatives, notably OrchKids, a program offered in early grades at a several Baltimore public schools. “As the kids get older and more proficient in their instruments, we hope they will get involved in the youth orchestra,” Meecham said.
For the past several years, the GBYO was ensemble-in-residence at Loyola University in Maryland. “Loyola needs their space back, so we're helping the youth orchestra to look for a new home for rehearsals,” Meecham said.
The BSYO will give one concert each season at the BSO's home base, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The location of additional concerts is to be determined (the GBYO's final concert of this season was held Sunday at Towson University's Center for the Arts).
PHOTO COURTESY OF KENLAM.ORG