Minnesota Youth Symphonies

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Minnesota Youth Symphonies
Origin Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota, US
Genres Classical
Occupation(s) Youth orchestra
Website mnyouthsymphonies.org/
Members Symphony Conductor
Manny Laureano
Repertory Conductor
Claudette Laureano
Philharmonic Conductor
Jim Bartsch
String Conductor
Patricia Kelly

Minnesota Youth Symphonies, commonly referred to as MYS, was founded in 1972 by Ralph Winkler. The program has four orchestras composed of students from elementary level through high school,[1] with participation's based on an annual audition. MYS, led by co-artistic directors Manny and Claudette Laureano since 1988, performs at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, as well as other locations, and hosts workshops and classes.

The orchestras[edit]

MYS includes four separate orchestras. The String Orchestra, composed only of stringed instruments, is conducted by Pat Kelly, and is for students at the intermediate level. The Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by former Minnesota Orchestra Education Director Jim Bartsch, is a full orchestra for music students at the advanced–intermediate level. The Repertory Orchestra, conducted by MYS Co-Artistic Director Claudette Laureano, is offered for advanced students. The highest-level orchestra, the Symphony Orchestra, is conducted by MYS Co-Artistic Director Manny Laureano, and is a collegiate-level full orchestra. Participation is based on an audition in which the prospective student must perform an appropriate solo, orchestral excerpt, scales and arpeggios, and must sight-read. Placement is based solely on audition results, rather than age.

The orchestras perform three major concerts in the Twin Cities area, primarily at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. There are also other performance opportunities throughout the year. Every fall the orchestras host the Symphony Solo Competition; the winners of the competition perform at the Symphony Orchestra's spring concert.[2]

In addition to performances, MYS hosts workshops and classes, and an annual summer music program, that usually consists of a chamber string workshop and a composition workshop.


MYS has been under the artistic direction of Manny Laureano, principal trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra, and his wife, Claudette Laureano, director of the Breck School's String Program, since 1988.[1] Previous music/artistic directors have included Ralph Winkler, Ed Forner (former Assistant Conductor with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Professor of Music at Macalester College), Bill McGlaughlin, Clyn D. Barrus and David Tuburgen. Under Winkler and Forner's initial leadership, MYS grew from a single orchestra to three ensembles ranging from beginning students to college-level musicians. Under Barrus' leadership, MYS grew to four orchestras and over 400 students. Under the Laureanos' leadership, MYS became known nationally as one of the nation's leading youth symphony organizations, adding a summer program and community outreach programs serving over 600 students.[citation needed]


Several alumni of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies program hold positions with professional orchestras, such as the Cleveland Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.[citation needed]

Notable years[edit]

In 1972, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra Society ended its sponsorship of the St. Paul Youth Orchestra, and Ralph Winkler established a new youth orchestra, the Minnesota Youth Symphony.

MYS toured Romania in 1973, becoming the first American youth orchestra to tour in a communist country. In 1992, the MYS Symphony Orchestra became the first orchestra to perform in the Super Bowl's half-time show, when Super Bowl XXVI was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.[1] Elmer Bernstein guest-conducted "The Magnificent Seven" with the MYS Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997. MYS has collaborated with many noted guest artists, conductors and performing groups including Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä, Butch Thompson, Charles Lazarus, Jorja Fleezanis, Bel Canto Chorus, St. Paul City Ballet, Minnesota Boys Choir, Ignacio "Nachito" Herrera, Doc Severinsen and the T.C. Swing Dancers.[1] In the winter of 2007, MYS Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Manny Laureano, performed Stravinksy's Rite of Spring in concert at Orchestra Hall, which was a first for MYS.

The 2007/08 season marked the 35th anniversary of MYS as well as the 20th anniversary of co-artistic directors Claudette and Manny Laureano. In honour of these events, each of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies' four orchestras premiered original works by Minnesotan composers. Full orchestral pieces were commissioned from composers Stephen Paulus, Shelley Hanson and MYS alumnus Edward (Teddy) Niedermaier. To select the fourth work, MYS held a composition competition open to MYS students and alumni under the age of 21. Aaron Hirsch, of Sleepy Eye, Minnesota won this contest with his composition for string orchestra.[3]

In 2015, MYS was invited to take part in the opening concerts at the newly renovated Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. During the two-year renovation of Orchestra Hall, MYS performed in various venues around the Twin Cities, such as churches and concert halls.


  1. ^ a b c d Philpott, Claire. "School Spotlight: Minnesota Youth Symphonies". Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ "5.6.07: Minnesota Youth Symphonies Soloists at Orchestra Hall". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. 19 December 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Nachito Herrera and Manny Laureano perform with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Retrieved May 10, 2017. 

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