For 42 years, the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra has provided
outstanding training and experience for the region's best young
instrumentalists. This year, things will be kicked up a notch.
On its 2010 New York tour, the ensemble received an enthusiastic
review in The New York Times, and a KETC (Channel 9) documentary on
the orchestra went viral, with 2.5 million hits, last year. The
orchestra's members are musically accomplished beyond their years.
To have a career today requires more, however. Musicians need to
know every aspect of the field, from social media to fundraising,
from community outreach to education.
Besides, many are called but few are chosen in the profession of
music. Any basic words of advice for aspiring performers must
include the phrase, "Have a backup plan."
That's all included in the youth orchestra's new, enlarged
mission. There's something in it for audiences, too: Tickets for the
Youth Orchestra, the second-best orchestra in town, are now free.
Members of the External Affairs department at the SLSO, including
vice president Adam Crane, education programs manager Dacy
Gillespie, community programs manager Maureen Byrne and publicist
Erika Ebsworth-Goold, took a long look at the youth orchestra and at
similar orchestras elsewhere, seeking ways to make a good program
Longtime YO manager Peggy Neilson, who recently retired, "is
legendary," Crane says. "She did a terrific job navigating these
waters for many years. Now it's our responsibility to take this to
the next level."
The students' talent is "incredible," Crane says. "But they come
in, they rehearse, they play their concert, and they leave. We're
going to concentrate on the whole musician, and take things beyond
YO members will have more opportunities to interact with and
learn from members of the SLSO, from individual coaching to
sectionals. They'll learn about marketing, development, public
speaking and all aspects of the orchestra, onstage and off. They'll
serve as musical ambassadors.
Crane, a cellist and former member of the YO, found his present
career almost by accident, when he was offered an internship at
Carnegie Hall, in the public relations office.
"I didn't even know what that was," he recalls, but he took to it
"Not everyone is going to go on to be a professional musician.
They need to know about the other opportunities" in music and
beyond, and learn skills that will serve them well in every part of
To that end, the YO's Saturday afternoon rehearsals will be
extended by 90 minutes for "Beyond Rehearsal." Every year will
include the advancement of musical skills: master classes, music
theory, audition skills and more.
For Year 1, the focus will be on "Life Skills Through Music,"
from practice habits to time management. Year 2 will be "Training
and Development," which includes connecting with audiences, managing
nerves and building good programs. …