DC Youth Orchestra Program
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The DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) is an American instrumental music education program in Washington, D.C. Although it is well known for its Youth Orchestra ensemble, it is a 12-level, curriculum-based (K-12) music education program that provides instrumental music classes for students throughout the Washington, D.C. area during out-of-school-time hours. The DCYOP is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization chartered in Washington, D.C. It is also a member of the League of American Orchestras, Americans for the Arts, and the United Way of the National Capital Area.
The program was founded in 1960 by Lyn McLain. By January 2012, the program had an average annual enrollment of nearly 800 students between the ages of four-and-a-half and nineteen. In December of 2004, Ava Spece was hired as the organization's first executive director. Since then, the organization has received much needed repair of financial stability and overall community engagement and public relations. With almost 800 students, the DC Youth Orchestra Program is the largest youth orchestra program in the DC Metropolitan region. Offering 17 times more classes than any other DC-area youth orchestra organizations, the DC Youth Orchestra Program is a leading music education resource. Through 2011, the DC Youth Orchestra Program tuition was over 25% lower than other area youth orchestras for DC students. From 2004-2012, students paid, on average, about 42% of the costs of programs offered by DC Youth Orchestra Program. In the fall of 2012, the program reduced its ensembles to two full orchestras, four string orchestras, and one wind ensemble. In 2013, the program reports student totals at 600 annually and reduced the age range from 'up to 19' to 'up to 18' years of age. The most advanced orchestra, simply known as the Youth Orchestra, has toured in more than nineteen countries and played for multiple U.S. Presidents. Youth Orchestra students performed in the 2009 Easter Egg Roll, 2009 Holiday Reception, and 2010 Easter Egg Roll at the White House. In November 2009, the students in the program also performed for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Ecumenical Patriarch at the State Department building in Washington, DC. In the fall of 2011, the organization reinstituted its touring program, with a domestic Eastern Seaboard tour that included Baltimore and Philadelphia, working with musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the fall of 2013, the program enrollment was just under 500 students.
Between 2005 and 2011, 100 percent of the students who graduated from the DCYOP also graduated from high school. Of those, 90-95 percent went on to attend college. The DCYOP's priority is to provide access to instrumental music education and orchestral training for all students of the D.C. area, regardless of socioeconomic status, prior experience, or ability to pay for services.
Timeline of organization
2013 - Fall, DCYOP announces hiring of Liz Schurgin as the new executive director.
2012 - Fall, Joshua Simonds announces his resignation from the organization.
2012 - Summer, DCYOP hires Joshua Simonds as executive director.
2012 – February, Youth Orchestra Performs at the National Cathedral for the Annual HS Choir Festival, sponsored by the Cathedral Choral Society and under the direction of Benjamin Hutto.
2012– January, Ava Spece, Director, leaves the organization after seven years of service. Gary Carleton, president of the board, credits her with "playing a critical role in restoring stability to the program.”
2011– November, Youth Orchestra tours Baltimore and Philadelphia, performs in a side-by-side with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. They performed Dvorak's "New World Symphony", The Overture of Wagner's famous opera, "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg", and the Waltz from Tchaikovsky's ballet "The Sleeping Beauty"
2011– October, Youth Orchestra performs in Mutual Inspirations Festival, part of Kids Eurofest 2011, sponsored by the Czech Embassy. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
2011– September, Youth Orchestra string students perform at ceremonies commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 at the Smithsonian American History Museum.
2011– September, Orchestra Day students prepare a concert in one day and perform for friends and family. Music from Halo!
2011– July, intermediate violinist perform at the Crossroads Farmers' Market.
2011– July, DCYOP summer camp students march in the Capitol Hill Fourth of July Parade in Washington, DC. Students also participated in the organization's first-ever, all-day summer music camp.
2011– March, Youth Orchestra Performs "Pictures at an Exhibition" and holds a drawing contest. Students in grades 3-5 from DC Public Schools submit drawings about the composition. Drawings are displayed in overhead projection at the performance at THEARC in SE DC.
2011 – February, Youth Orchestra Performs at the National Cathedral for the Annual HS Choir Festival, sponsored by the Cathedral Choral Society and under the direction of Benjamin Hutto.
2010 – December, Messiah Sing-Along with the Youth Orchestra performed at the Kennedy Center.
2010 - November, Youth Orchestra performs at the Kennedy Center in a collaborative project with the Organization of American States called From the Barrio to the Concert Hall. From the Barrio to the Concert Hall is the product of a joint effort between the Hey Mozart! Program, the OAS’ Orchestra Program for Youth at Risk in the Caribbean, youth orchestra programs in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico, and the DC Youth Orchestra Program.
2010 - September, DCYOP begins season at new location. The program moved in August 2010, for the first time since its inception in 1960, to Eastern HS. Still in Washington DC.
2010 – August, DCYOP celebrates 50 years of providing high-quality music education to the youth of the DC area. Celebratory concert at the Kennedy Center on August 21, 2010. Including orchestra composed of alumni from the program - concert free and open to the public, Kennedy Center concert hall, 6:00 p.m.. Marvin Hamlisch hosting. World premiere of 2010 work by Emmy winner and alumnus of the program, John Wineglass.
2010 – June, DC Youth Orchestra Program announces that it will be moving to the newly remodeled Eastern Senior High School beginning in the fall of 2010. The relocation is a long awaited change - announcement of quest for a new location announced in 2005.
2010 – June, Intermediate Violin students perform the National Anthem at the Mystics Game at the Verizon Center. Dr. Sheila Johnson performs with the students.
2010 – April, Youth Orchestra performs at the White House for the Annual Easter Egg Roll.
2010 – February, Youth Orchestra Performs at the National Cathedral for the Annual HS Choir Festival, sponsored by the Cathedral Choral Society and under the direction of Benjamin Hutto.
2009 – December, Flute Choir performs at the White House for a holiday reception
2009 – November, Youth Orchestra students perform Mozart Opera at the Austrian Embassy as part of the Kids Euro Festival with singers from DC's own Embassy Series
2009 – November, Youth Orchestra students perform at the US Department of State, for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ecumenical Patriarch at a state dinner. Secretary Clinton breaks protocol to come over and congratulate the students
2009 – October, Maestro Lorin Maazel visits the DCYOP and conducts a rehearsal with the most advanced ensemble, the Youth Orchestra
2009 – August, students from the Youth Orchestra participate in a side-by-side performance with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas at the Organization of American States.
2009 – July, Intermediate violin students from the program perform the National Anthem at the Washington Mystics v. L.A. Sparks WNBA game
2009 – June, Metro Herald feature article, front page/center, about the DC Youth Orchestra Program
2009 – June, Hill Rag feature article about the DC Youth Orchestra Program
2009 – May, DCYOP subject of feature story on NPR All Things Considered
2009 – April, Youth Orchestra of the DCYOP performs at the President Barack Obama's Administration’s first Easter Egg Roll. Organization is mentioned on Good Morning America, WTOP, WAMU, and in The Washington Post
2009 – March, Students from the DCYOP perform at the reception for the Mayor’s Arts Awards
2009 – March, Students from the DC Youth Orchestra Program perform at the Arts Council of the National Endowment for the Arts. Executive Director Ava Spece gives a speech to the Council
2008 – August, Students from the DCYOP perform for Vice President (then Senator) Joe Biden
2008 – August, Washington area Bloomingdale's stores honor the DCYOP as their Charity of Choice for 2008
2008 – June, the Youth Orchestra performs final concert of the season at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2008 – May, the DC City Council members vote to include the DC Youth Orchestra Program in the FY09 City Budget for the first time in the organization’s history
2008 – May, Intermediate violin students of the DCYOP perform the National Anthem at the Washington Mystics v. L.A. Sparks WNBA game
2008 – May, DCYOP named “one of the best small nonprofits in the Greater Washington region” by the Catalogue for Philanthropy – inclusion in the 2008-09 Catalogue
2008 – January, DC Commission on Arts and Humanities awards the Upstart Grant to the DC Youth Orchestra Program
2007 – November, the Youth Orchestra Performs at Kennedy Center.
2007 - Alumni Orchestra Concert and Celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall, on July 8, 2007
2006 – Founder and President of the Board, Lyn McLain, announces his resignation from the board of directors
2006 – Founder Lyn McLain announces that he is stepping down from the podium for health reasons
2005 – DCYOP announces that they are seeking a new facility for classes and rehearsals
2005 – Guest conducting appearance by Mr. Marvin Hamlisch, at the December holiday concert at the Kennedy Center
2005 – DCYOP celebrates 45th Anniversary
2005 – DCYOP unveils new logo and website
2004 – Students perform at the Coming Up Taller Awards event in DC
2004 – Benefit Concert sponsored by the Organization of American States
2004 – DCYOP hires first Executive Director, Ava Spece
2003 – International tour to Japan
2003 – Mayor’s Arts Award, Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education, presented to DCYOP by the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities
2002 – Takao Kanayama hired as conductor for the Youth Orchestra
2002 – International tour to South Africa
2002 – Coming Up Taller award presented to the DCYOP by Laura Bush
1999 – International tour to Austria and Germany
1999 – Exemplary Award given to the DCYOP by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
1998 – DCYOP receives award in recognition of outstanding performance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Observance, in Fort Monmouth, NJ from the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command
1996 – International tour to Netherlands and Belgium
1994 – International tour to Netherlands, France and Belgium
1992 – International tour to Spain
1992 – DCYOP receives Outstanding Instrumental Program award at the Heritage Music Festival in Toronto, Canada
1992 – DCYOP receives Adjudicator Award at the Heritage Music Festival in Toronto, Canada
1990 – First Youth Orchestra ever showcased at an American Symphony Orchestra League Conference, 45th annual conference
1989 – International tour to Spain
1988 – International tour to Puerto Rico, Russia, and Estonia
1987 – Lyn McLain given Washingtonian of the Year award, Washington, DC
1987 – Mayor’s Arts Award, Excellence in Service to the Arts, presented to DCYOP by the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities
1987 – Plaque of Appreciation awarded by the Korean Cultural Foundation, Inc., and the Sun Hwa Arts and High School
1987 – International tour to Puerto Rico and South Korea
1986 – International tour to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan
1985 – Lyn McLain receives Outstanding Community Service award from the National Guard of the District of Columbia
1984 – International tour to Puerto Rico
1983 – The Hotel Association of Washington DC honors the DC Youth Orchestra Program for outstanding contributions to the city of Washington
1982 – Mayor Marion Barry Proclaims October 19, “D.C. Youth Orchestra Day” in the City of Washington
1981 – International tour to Greece and Yugoslavia
1978 – International tour to Japan and participated in the National Youth Orchestra festival of Japan as guests of Setsuo Tskahara and premiered Tskahara’s symphony
1978 – Orchestra performs for the Carter administration, on the White House lawn with the Tokyo Junior Philharmonic
1974 – International tour to Scotland and London, including participation in the International Youth Orchestra Festival
1972 – International tour to Germany, including participation in the Von Karajan Festival in Berlin
1971 – Orchestra performs for First Lady Patricia Nixon and other dignitaries on the White House lawn
1971 – First Youth Orchestra to perform at the new John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
1970 – DCYOP receives Mayor’s Commendation from Mayor Walter E. Washington, for Outstanding Performance and Exceptional Achievement and for Bringing Honor to the People and City of Washington DC
1970 – Youth Orchestra performs at the Music Educators’ National Convention (MENC) in Pittsburg, PA.
1970 – DCYOP’s first international tour, Switzerland
1968 – Lily Guest, President of the Friends of the Kennedy Center and Walter Anderson, Head of the Music Department of the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) work to prepare for the DCYOP’s first tour
1967 – DCYOP holds significant fundraising event chaired by the Secretary of State David Rusk
1967 – Youth Orchestra performs for First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and other dignitaries on the White House lawn
1964 – DCYOP receives Outstanding Performance award from the Eastern convention of the MENC
1964 – Orchestra performs in Pittsburgh for the Eastern convention of the MENC (Music Educator’s Association)
1961 – First season begins at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in NW DC
1961 – Spring, first concert by the DCYOP
1960 – First orchestra meets at Roosevelt High School
1960 – DCYOP is founded by Lyn McLain at the request of DC Public Schools, with a handful of teachers and 60 students