The Union Symphony Youth Orchestra (USYO) is gearing up for their Spring Concert on March 15, 2020 at 4:00 pm at Charlotte Latin School as part of their 11th season. One of the four concerts a year that the USYO performs, this Spring Concert will showcase how far they have grown as a group. The USYO operates as a program of the Union Symphony Society Inc. to provide a quality orchestral music experience to the youth of Union County and the surrounding area. The USYO is led by Music Director Sabrina Howard and Assistant Director Keith James while Music Director Amanda Turner leads the Prelude Orchestra all with the assistance of Elizabeth Skinner, Youth Manager. The Prelude Junior String Orchestra is a division of the USYO for students who aren’t as advanced yet and many of these members will try out and grow into the full USYO. The 2019/2020 season has 40 members in the USYO and 26 members in the Prelude JSO.
“Auditions for the 2020-2021 season will be held Saturday, March 14 at Charlotte Latin School. We are currently accepting applications for auditions through our website, www.usyo.org. Prior to the audition day, students will sign up for a specific audition time. Each student will come prepared to play a scale and a prepared piece as well as a selection of sight-reading. Invitations to join USYO for the 2020-2021 season will be extended a few weeks after all auditions are complete.” explains Skinner. “In June, our students participate in an overnight camp for four days at Wingate University, during which time they prepare the first concert of the season which is held the last evening of camp. The students have the opportunity to really get to know each other and build lasting friendships bonding over a shared love of music. The camp involves volunteer parent chaperones, music mentors from Wingate’s music department, and, of course, our high-quality professional coaches and directors.”
The USYO is not limited to Union County with musicians from over 11 counties from North Carolina and South Carolina participating over the years. The 2019/2020 class of the USYO includes Gianina D’Attoma of Waxhaw (Violin), Ella Berke of Waxhaw (Oboe), Jenny Nam of Waxhaw (Violin), Jack Ver Straate of Matthews (Trumpet), and Darby Burgett of Waxhaw (Percussion). Since Union County does not have an orchestra program in their high schools, this is really the only place for the teens to come together to play. D’Attoma started playing in the 5th grade and shared that her favorite part of the group is spending a lot of time together and developing friendships outside of her normal group. Berke plays in concert band and says the transition to the full orchestra in USYO was weird but great and she has felt her talent as a musician grow. Nam started with the Prelude and is now a member of the full USYO. She said that while school music groups may be taken by students thinking it is an easy grade, the USYO requires auditions so you are will others who really enjoy playing. Ver Straate plays in the concert and marching bands but joined the USYO to push himself to expand his knowledge of music and improvisation while having fun. Burgett enjoys making friends at different schools and meeting different musicians in a new atmosphere and is looking forward to continuing to play through college.
Music Director Sabrina Howard has been with the group since Fall 2010 in several different capacities. She has worked in sectionals, directed the Prelude group for 4 years, and is now the Director of the USYO. She loves working with the USYO because it provides band kids a different aspect of music and allows orchestra kids to continue with their instrument. “It is a wonderful growth opportunity for the students to learn how their parts fit in to the whole.” Howard herself is a member of the Union Symphony Orchestra playing the violin.
Tickets for the concert on March 15 at 4:00 at Charlotte Latin School are available online in advance or at the door. More information about the Union Symphony Youth Orchestra is available at usyo.org.