Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras
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Founded in 1942, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (SYSO) is the largest youth orchestra training program in the United States. The organization serves over 1,600 diverse students each year with four full orchestras, three summer festival programs, and extensive partnerships with local public schools. By awarding nearly $200,000 in financial aid annually, SYSO ensures that every talented student can participate in our programs, regardless of financial resources.
SYSO-in-the-Schools supports public school instrumental music programs by providing instruction in 25 Seattle-area public schools serving over 600 students annually.
Marrowstone Summer Festivals provide intensive learning environments for over 500 students age 7 to 25 years each summer.
The Academic-Year Orchestra Program serves over 470 students through four full orchestras and one string orchestra. The four full orchestras are: The Symphonette Orchestra serves as an arena for younger musicians to gain valuable performance experience. The next level orchestra is the Debut Symphony Orchestra, it was founded in 1946 and is the largest orchestra in the organization's academic year program. The next orchestra is Junior Symphony Orchestra, this orchestra performs major works from the symphonic repertoire. Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, composed of talented young musicians in the Puget Sound region, this group is SYSO's flagship orchestra and one of the premier youth orchestras in the United States. The orchestra performs three regular season concerts in Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, and regularly partners with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, regional Broadway Musical Theater organizations, local choruses and internationally acclaimed guest artists and conductors. Finally, the Prelude String Orchestra, the lowest level, founded in 2016, is composed of very young musicians. This orchestra's purpose is to encourage young musicians to experience being in an orchestra.
SYSO also offers three summer music programs. The Marrowstone Music Festival, hosted by Western Washington University in Bellingham, serves around 185 high school and college aged students a year with a two-week intensive residential summer program. Faculty members at Marrowstone have included Dale Clevenger and Glenn Dicterow. Two sessions of Marrowstone in the City (MITC) are held in suburbs that surround Seattle, and serve over 330 younger players.
SYSO works with local schools through the Endangered Instruments Program, started by Walter Cole, a project that exposes middle school students to less commonly played instruments like the oboe, bassoon, viola, double bass and French horn. The first of its kind in the United States, the program has been emulated in many other places, including New York City, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Vancouver, B.C. EIP partners with 13 Seattle-area public schools to serve over 170 students a year.
Through all of its programs, Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras serves over 1,100 young musicians each year. Its concerts reach over 14,000, and are replayed over KING-FM to audiences in excess of 200,000.
In November 2008, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras received a grant of $500,000 from the Wallace foundation.
The Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra, the organization's oldest and most accomplished orchestra, has a long history. For its first two years, it was called the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Seattle. From 1944 to 1963, it was the Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific Northwest. Vilem Sokol led the orchestra for 28 years (1960-1988), and it was under him that the YSO became the fourth orchestra in the United States to perform Gustav Mahler's Tenth Symphony. After the London Symphony Orchestra gave its premiere, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony had been the only orchestras in the world to have performed the work. Under conductor Sokol, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra made two recordings of Mahler's Tenth Symphony in its entirety.
Dr. Radcliffe continues to fulfill the promise recognized when he made his Lincoln Center conducting debut with Metropolitan Opera sopranos Jan DeGaetani, Susan Graham and Dawn Upshaw. Since then Mr. Radcliffe has conducted orchestras on four continents, produced compact disc recordings of operatic, orchestral, and chamber music works, and has fostered the development of audiences through innovative educational and artistic programs. An Assistant Conductor of the Boston Lyric Opera, Radcliffe was Founder and Music Director of the New York Chamber Ensemble - performing for over a decade at Lincoln Center, Artistic Director of the Cape May Music Festival, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Virtuosi, which he led in international touring, television and radio broadcast performances and recording projects. Stephen Rogers Radcliffe served as the Director of Orchestral and Operatic Activities at the University of Massachusetts and Music Director of the Five College Opera Project. Mr. Radcliffe holds a degree in Music Education from the New England Conservatory and has led youth orchestra programs throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. He holds a master's degree in conducting from the University of Michigan and has studied at the Aspen and Tanglewood Music Centers as well as at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna. Mr. Radcliffe has served as the Harry and Mildred Bemis Endowed Fellow at Brandeis University. His principal teachers include Gustav Meier, Leonard Bernstein and Franco Ferrara.
Daniel Petersen brings a comprehensive and extensive arts management background to SYSO. Former manager of Orchestra Seattle/ Seattle Chamber Singers, Mr. Petersen was also Executive Director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and manager of the Distinguished Artists Series at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as co-founder of the Choral Alliance of Philadelphia. Besides his classical music background Mr. Petersen has been manager of a Shakespearean theater company and booking and tour contractor for a rock, folk and jazz club outside Chicago. Currently he serves on the Youth Orchestra Division Board of the American Symphony Orchestra League.
Notes and references
- Seattle Mayor's Office of Film and Music Archived February 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Donald Peck, The Right Place, The Right Time!: Tales of Chicago Symphony Days (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007): 5. ISBN 9780253116888
- San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Program, 5–7 April 1967; 7,9,10 May 1969.