An outstanding youth orchestra exists on the North Shore?!? Yes, indeed! I think I am the luckiest man in the world – I get to work with our professional Lions Gate Sinfonia players AND the eager and talented young musicians in our new Lions Gate Youth Orchestra!
Sinfonia has long been involved in sharing music with students of all ages and levels of musical experience. Since our very first concert in October of 2000, we have encouraged people of all ages and musical backgrounds (and who love ALL types of music) to enjoy being part of our musical family. That experience includes not only attending concerts designed specifically for young people, but also what I have always called our "Side-by-Side" educational events. This is where fine young students are selected to sit and play on stage with us - right next to and along with our professionals! We have always thought about creating our own youth orchestra, but only now, with a dozen years of audience development and performing under our belts, we have finally launched this all-important project. It was natural growth that led us to this point – in the events of the past we would always bring in 15 to 20 young players to have an annual experience where they would receive coaching and play in rehearsals and concerts with us, but somehow, we knew there was more that we could do for these fine young musicians to make music an indispensable part of their lives.
The Lions Gate Youth Orchestra takes that experience and makes it a WEEKLY event! Our Thursday evening rehearsals are a combination of hard musical work and joyful camaraderie. Starting in September, we have presented these auditioned players in several events, including “sitting in” with the professional Lions Gate Sinfonia in our regular Centennial Theatre concert series, participating in the spectacular “Community Days Orchestra” made up of dozens of local players, and even presenting a short Christmas concert for families and friends following one of our regular Thursday evening rehearsals. Plans for the remainder of the term include performing on our own throughout the spring at several Senior Centres and hospitals, and a big Gala Inaugural Season-Ending concert on June 1.
The enthusiasm is palpable (I always wanted to write those words!) and the reward of our hard work is seeing young musicians playing their first Mozart Symphony, their first Chopin Piano Concerto accompaniment, and their first work by a living composer! We aren’t just playing music by “The Three B’s,” either – we have tangos, folk songs, show tunes, and music from the Baroque era right up to the music of today!
The key word in all of this is “share.” We pros from Sinfonia are sharing our experiences and knowledge with these young musicians, and we are all sharing music with our combined audiences in formal concerts and casual settings. Who knows? Maybe someday a few of these players will become professional performers or teachers or composers or conductors themselves! Until that someday comes, though, we are having a blast making music together and learning all the lessons that go along with that: teamwork, goal-setting, and discipline, and enjoying making new friends and colleagues.