Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon


photo by Elena Patterson

Two Youth Orchestra Players 2015

Elena Patterson, Reporter

The Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon (YSSO) performed their spring concert series on May 29-31 in Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland. Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon (YSSO) is a program where young musicians can come together and practice complicated music, and perform it in showcase theaters.

There are three levels in YSSO. The first is Youth Strings, and it is directed by Faina Podolnaya. Youth Strings is exclusively for string instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, and Piano), and offers what is called, ‘Entry Level Training.’ It is for the younger and/or less experienced string players.

The next level is Youth Orchestra, and is directed by Cynthia Hutton. Youth Orchestra is the intermediate group for strings and for beginners/intermediates in band. Orchestra includes strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. Orchestra tends to perform more complicated pieces than the Youth Strings.

The third and final level is Youth Symphony; they play adult level music (also directed by Cynthia Hutton). Youth Symphony contains all the same instruments as the Orchestra, but play at a much higher level. Last May, the Youth Symphony is playing a 20 minute piece by Dr. Mark Eliot Jacobs, a skilled composer living in the Rogue Valley. His piece is about Crater Lake. Titled Crater Lake Fantasy: Another Sky at Our Feet, Dr. Jacobs’ piece features a clarinet solo, performed by winner of the Oregon State Activities Association State Solo Music Competition, Jerry Su. Su has been a member of YSSO for six years. He is now a senior at South Medford High School, and section leader of the Youth Symphony clarinets.

YSSO is a great opportunity for musicians to come together and work together for a common goal. Kids learn how to match up their sounds and learn a lot in the process.

“It’s as much of a team as any sport,” says cellist, Jade Gaston of Youth Orchestra.

When asked what they liked about YSSO, Eryl Kenner replied, “It’s really a lot of fun.” As a bassoonist in Youth Symphony, he thinks, “It’s also really great to get to meet other musicians.”

“Also it looks really good on a resume,” piped in trombonist and member of Youth Orchestra, Ollie Maude.

There will not be a summer season for YSSO, so May 29-31 were the final dates to see them until the next season in the fall. The concerts were performed at SOU in Ashland, the Performing Arts Center in Grants Pass and at the Craterian Theater at the Collier Center in Medford.

If you are a musician interested in joining YSSO, there will be tryouts in Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland in early September. Tryout information will be released on the website ( early July to late August. For more info, contact Sharon Wilson, the executive director at [email protected].

Click here to listen to the Youth Symphony and Orchestra play together in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the movie The Sound of Music.