According to the group's website, the West Virginia Youth Symphony originated in 1949 when the Charleston Woman's Club organized the Kanawha Valley Youth Orchestra. It has operated continuously since then, becoming incorporated in 1968 as the Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra and changing its name in 1991 to the West Virginia Youth Symphony.
Each year, about 100 young musicians participate, ages 7 to 20, making it both the largest and the oldest youth orchestra in the state. Students come from as far away as Ohio to rehearse weekly in Charleston. The students are from 35 public and private schools, plus college and home-schools.
"We have wonderful conductors and coaches. They are all professional musicians with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra," Charbonniez said.
The Youth Symphony has two all-strings groups, the Cadet Strings and the older Youth Strings, and the Youth Orchestra, which includes the most advanced strings players joined by winds, brass and percussion. In addition, the wind, brass and percussion play in their own Wind Ensemble. They also have a Youth Winds group to advance the skills of younger wind players.
Each year the musicians have the chance to form a number of chamber groups with individual instruction, and these are presented in a Chamber Concert in the winter. These chamber groups also play at a number of different public events, such as Charleston's Good Night and Library Jams.
The Youth Symphony has organized three European Performance Tours. In 2000, 40 young musicians traveled to Prague, Vienna, Brno and Budapest. In 2006, 48 musicians traveled to Italy and Austria. In 2012, the group had a 10-day, three-performance tour to Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.
Cooke said that the Youth Symphony endeavors to develop pride and self-esteem in young people from all cultural backgrounds through their individual musical achievement and to instill values, discipline and learning abilities that will benefit them throughout their lives.
The program includes rehearsals, sectionals, ensemble playing and concerts held September through June. Master classes, field trips, run-out concerts and other special events are included as money permits. Students are presented challenging music to encourage musical growth and to provide a stimulating learning experience.
Tickets for the 3 p.m. Sunday "Winter Concert" are $10 for adults and all children are admitted free. Performances will be given by all of the ensembles: Cadet String Ensemble, Youth String Ensemble, Youth Winds, Wind Ensemble and Youth Orchestra.
For more information, contact Marlies Charbonniez at 304-3410682, Marjorie Cooke at 304-561-3542, email wvyouthsym-ph...@ gmail.com, or visit www.wvyouthsymphony.org.
Reach Judy E. Hamilton at judy.Hamil...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.