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Keeping Tempo Volume 4, Number 1, August 2012

YOBC Introduces Ripieno—New String Ensemble

Inside this issue: Mark O’Connor’s Summer Strings Program


Dear YOBC Community


New Performance Opportunities for YOBC Ensembles


Summer with Philadel- 4 phia International Music Festival YOBC Graduate Greg Chen Attends National Orchestra Festival


Student Spotlight: Alan Wu


Executive Director’s 5 Corner: Stepping Out of August YOBC’s 2012 International Tour to Mediterranean France & Spain


YOBC to Launch New Initiative—Students In Concert—in Bristol


This fall, YOBC is introducing another new string ensemble — Ripieno Strings. As our programs and ensembles continue to grow in popularity — and size — it became apparent that a new group was needed. Concertino and Philharmonia, both originally conceived as chamber string ensembles had each grown to 50 or more members. YOBC’s artistic staff met to discuss the situation and decided to create Ripieno as a new, intermediate step between Concertino and Philharmonia.

Important Dates: 

September 8: Orientations and Curtain-Raiser


September 9: Fall rehearsals begin


September 23: Parents’ meetings


November 17: Fall concerts


November 19: B&N Book Fair

Chris Horner will conduct the new Ripieno Strings ensemble

The new Intermediate Division ensemble will have 30 members in its inaugural season. The smaller ensemble will better address the technical and musical needs of the advancing string student, and will place students in groups that better match their skill level. The small group will also allow for better feedback and individual attention to students. Members of Ripieno will have a number of sectionals throughout the year which will provide an opportunity for additional instruction. Ripieno will be conducted by Chris Horner who also conducts the orchestras and jazz ensembles at Germantown Academy and the Wissahickon High School Symphonic Orchestra. Mr. Horner has a BA in bass performance and an MA in teaching from University of the Arts. In addition to teaching and conducting,

he is an active double bass player in the Philadelphia area. There are a number of pieces ready to download and practice for the first rehearsal. Mr. Horner says, “Some will find some of the music to be on the easy side, and some will find some of the music to be kind of challenging, but everyone will encounter opportunities to reach for artistic goals in his or her playing.” His goal for the group is to “make beautiful music that will have a positive influence both in our own lives and in the lives of our audiences.” Finally, what does “Ripieno” mean? It refers to the full orchestra, “filling in” after the instrumental soloists play.

Mark O’Connor’s Summer Strings Program This past summer, I spent five days in Boston, Massachusetts attending the Mark O’Connor Summer Strings Program. My fellow attendees were intermediate-toadvanced musicians who all had one thing in common, regardless of age, origin, or background… a passion for fiddling. I play the viola, and have been playing fiddle tunes the past few years for fun. In Boston, I was able to work intimately with professionals from Julliard, Tanglewood, Berklee, as well as old-time fiddlers, international musicians, competition fiddlers, and active recording artists such as Rachel Barton and Tracy Silverman. Every night there were performances put on by the visiting instructors. The Mark O’Connor Summer Strings Program introduces the classically trained musician to alternative ways of exploring music. I was the exception in a group of stellar musicians who

had primarily learned fiddling by ear, and not by reading sheet music. This year at Berklee they introduced the Classical Roots Orchestra, led by Eugene Friesen, a well known cello player. We played jazz, classical, and oldtime fiddle selections. My classical music training, orchestra skills from YOBC, and ability to read sheet music earned me the honor of playing a solo in one of the pieces during the final performance. During my stay in Boston, I learned there is more than one way to play a stringed instrument. The Mark O’Conner Program had more of a laid back atmosphere than I was used to, which I grew to appreciate during my stay. Each day, I had the opportunity to choose which workshop I wanted to attend, and they offered a wide range of options from music theory to learning specific styles of play-

ing. A favorite class of mine was offered by Ben Sollee, a cello player, who taught me how to strum and pluck my instrument’s strings like a banjo or guitar. I’m looking forward to the spring season of YOBC when Mark O’Connor himself will be coming to offer master classes and play with us at the Patriots Theatre during next year’s YOBC spring concert. —Mike D’Amico, Violist YOBC Symphony Orchestra

Conductors’ Notes: Dear YOBC Community Thank you for a very warm and supportive welcome! I am delighted to join you this season as conductor of Prima Strings and Concertino, and as coach of the Honors String Quartet. Last year, I had the pleasure of working with these ensembles as guest conductor. I was excited to see what each group had accomplished, and I am now thrilled to have the opportunity to once again work with YOBC’s devoted and talented musicians. While I look forward to getting to know everyone very soon, I wanted to share a bit about myself so that you could get to know me, Page 2

too. Music has been very special to me ever since I began playing violin as a child. While it was hard to describe exactly why I felt so strongly about music, I knew it was something special that I wanted to keep in my life. In fact, one of the most important experiences I had as a musician was in a youth orchestra just like YOBC! After playing in an orchestra, I realized one of the reasons I value music was because it is a language anyone can understand. Music has an unlimited vocabulary that can represent ideas and feelings in a way words alone cannot. It pro-

vides a universal form of expression through which our cultures, emotions, and even our individual personalities are reflected. And sharing these elements of music with each other is not only an experience we can enjoy, but one that can help us grow. During my visit to YOBC, I was impressed by each group’s skill and dedication and inspired by everyone’s eagerness to share with each other the very musical experiences that I believe are so valuable. It was clear to me that each person took pride in his or her contribution, and that is something very special. I am honored to become part of the YOBC family, and I look forward to making music and growing together. —Colin Oettle, Conductor YOBC Prima Strings & Concertino

New Performance Opportunities for YOBC Ensembles A number of new performance opportunities are being planned for YOBC ensembles this year. Starting on November 19, just after the fall concert, Barnes & Noble will host another YOBC book fair which will feature several of our chamber ensembles in an evening performance. Then on December 7, the YOBC Symphony Orchestra has been invited to Grace Point in Newtown for its annual One Winter Night festivities. This free event features traditional holiday carols, home-baked cookies, live musical performances and more. Our second annual Chamber Recital will take place on February 9 at Bucks County Community College. Last year’s recital was popular and we expect an even better event this winter. All of our current chamber groups will perform — Flute Choir, Chamber Flute Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Clarinet Ensemble, and the Honors String Quartet. Several other small groups may perform based on talent and interest, to be determined after the start of the season. The Honors String Quartet will play at several community events which will be decided after the group is selected, based partly on their schedules and availability. Be sure to watch the YOBC website for updates on their performances. In the spring, the Percussion Ensemble expects to have another joint performance with The College of New Jersey’s percussion ensemble. Details about that free concert will be available soon. We are also currently in discussions with members of the Philadelphia Orchestra about a possible Youth Orchestra Festival at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia. There are still a lot of details to work out before we can make any definite decisions or plans about this event. Of course, our most exciting

opportunity will be a concert at Patriots Theater in the Trenton War Memorial with Grammy-award winning fiddler and composer Mark Volume 4, Number 1, August 2012

O’Connor. Mr. O’Connor will present workshops to all YOBC string students on Saturday, May 4, followed by a concert Sunday, May 5. Page 3

Summer with Philadelphia International Music Festival This past summer was a summer of many firsts for me and my study of music. I spent my first two weeks away from home at the Philadelphia International Music Festival at Bryn Mawr College. At PIMF, it was the first time my peers were as serious about their study of music as I am about my own. In addition, it was my first time being mentored by professional musicians. My orchestra director was Mark Gigiliotti, a bassoonist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and my private music teacher was Burchard Tang, a violist for the Philadelphia Orchestra. How cool is that? There were classical music

concerts every evening. My favorite concerts were separate trips to the Academy of Music and the Mann Center to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra perform. At PIMF, we participated in a private practice

marathon in which I practiced four and a half hours in one day, another first for me. At the final performance, the seven different orchestra levels performed selections that were rehearsed in daily orchestra sessions. PIMF required a great deal of hard work and was challenging, but the improvement in my playing made the efforts well worth it. I hope to return to PIMF next year and advance to the next orchestra level. I know my participation in YOBC will help me to work towards this goal! —Isabelle D’Amico, Violist YOBC Philharmonia

YOBC Graduate Greg Chen Attends National Orchestra Festival For the second time in my life, I was extremely blessed to have been a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) AllNational Orchestra from June 21–24. These orchestras are formed every other year by NAfME and the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). Students are accepted based on competitive auditions from their desGreg Chen with David ignated Decker, conductor of the 2012 All-National Orches- region. Over tra in Washington, DC the course of four days, the orchestra rehearsed under the baton of David Decker, Director of Orchestral Studies at the Page 4

Lawrence University Conservatory in Wisconsin; toured all the sights that Washington DC and the Baltimore harbor had to offer, and gave an ovation-rousing performance at the iconic Kennedy Center of Performing Arts. This unbelievable performance opportunity definitely ranks among my most memorable life-time experiences. The definitive highlight of my experience would be interacting and forming bonds with my fellow orchestra, band, and choir members. It was almost surreal how passionate everybody was regarding music—conversations ranged from our shared love of Shostakovich to bad viola jokes. Touring iconic sites such as the Smithsonian museum; the White House; the FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean memorials; and seeing the Marine Corps Band play live with these people only made the experience more memorable. Many of the seniors going off to college were pursuing a degree either in music education or performance (there was one in particular going to Westminster Choir College— shout out to Mr. Cunningham!). In addition, our conductor, David

Decker, was nothing short of phenomenal in leading our orchestra. He was a giant both in stature (clocking in at six feet seven inches) and inspiration. He was the type of man who openly wore his heart on his sleeve, and he electrified every single one of us with excitement and passion us to test our limits and play the best that we could. We all left the Kennedy Center not only as better musicians, but better people because of him. As sad as I was to leave my newly founded friends and Washington DC, I am very excited to apply what I have learned from the experience (and my six years at YOBC!) to my college endeavors. —Greg Chen Greg Chen was the Associate Concertmaster in YOBC’s Symphony Orchestra in 2011–12 and an inaugural member of the Honors String Quartet. He will be attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania this fall.


potlight: Alan Wu

YOBC’s international tours are designed for our Advanced Division students, but sometimes a lucky younger sibling gets to go along if his family decides to go. This year, Prima Strings violinist Alan Wu was one of a handful of siblings who got to accompany YOBC’s touring ensemble to Northern Spain and Southern France. Alan is a 9-year-old fourth grader at New Hope Solebury Upper Elementary School. He has been playing violin since he was in kindergarten and joined YOBC’s Prima Strings last year. Alan likes to play music at school, and he says that “being in YOBC is fun and hard.” We asked Alan about going on tour with YOBC. “It was a lot of fun seeing new places, he said. When we asked if he enjoyed the concerts, he told us, “I did like

listening to the concerts, but I'd rather play in the concerts.” Alan’s favorite part of the tour was when the group went to Tossa De Mar (a small coastal town north of Barcelona). The tour group enjoyed an afternoon at the beach early in the trip. He also said he would like to go on tour as a musician. If YOBC is planning a trip when he joins the Advanced Division, he said, “I would like to go to Greece and Rome.” Trip planners, are you paying attention? In his free time, Alan likes to read, roller blade, play video games, and swim. He takes private violin lessons from Greg Lipscomb who plays viola and other instruments. Alan says in the future he would like to be an inventor or a chemical engineer. We look forward to seeing Alan back at YOBC this fall as one of the veteran Prima Strings musicians.

Alan Wu on the Mediterranean coast (above), and with his sister, Grace, at a YOBC concert in Europe (below).

Executive Director’s Corner: Stepping Out of August There I was, lying on the beach, soaking in the warmth of the sun and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze. A lollipop-colored umbrella caste a soft shade as I dug my feet into the sand, sipped my icy Coke and lost myself in the gripping adventure of Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. Ah the bliss of summer! Lost in this pleasant moment as I was, the distant conversations of the occupants of the beach blanket next to me began to penetrate my consciousness, their words gradually creeping, unbeckoned, to my ears, as a cat stalks her unsuspecting prey. “Back to school!” The words caused me to flail in a panic, as if I had fallen out of bed during a sound sleep and had no idea which way was up or down. Stepping into August is like that! Gone are the easy days of summer, the delightful shock of Volume 4, Number 1, August 2012

water ice on a hot afternoon, grilled burgers piled high with juicy summer tomatoes, swimming in frothy ocean beaches, growing with new experiences, learning new things and appreciating those rare, quiet moments to enjoy that which slips by unnoticed at other times of the year. Slowly, September begins to take shape, like the outline of distant mountains as the morning fog lifts. September, with its schedule tuned as tightly as the strings on a piano, is coming into view! It’s time to get out of my beach chair and put on my hiking boots again. August is that halfway point when we have one foot planted in summer and the other in the rapidly approaching fall. It is an on-the-fence, imprecise collection of moments when we are both looking back with regret and moving ahead with anticipation – holding on to our summer pleasures and freedoms and looking forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

What lies ahead for you? For YOBC students, there will be many exciting opportunities this year. Catching up with old friends and making new ones, working together to create great music, learning from special guest artists, attending Philadelphia Orchestra concerts, playing in chamber music groups, and performing with Grammy-award winning artist Mark O’Connor in concert in Patriots Theater are all a part of YOBC’s exciting calendar of events for this year. This is your year to reach goals you never dreamed possible, make lasting friendships, and become a part of great music. We may all be a little sad to say goodbye to summer, but look at the mountaintop that lies ahead. Step out of August, dive into September, and get ready for the challenges and opportunities of a lifetime! —Colleen Sweetsir YOBC Executive Director Page 5

YOBC’s 2012 International Tour to Mediterranean France & Spain YOBC tour participants share some of their favorite moments and photographs from this summer’s tour.

When I first picked up the cello I had no idea it would take me to Barcelona. Thanks YOBC for an awesome trip.

My favorite memory of the trip was going to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. I loved seeing the prism of colors emitting from the stained glass windows. I felt as if I was in a forest when I glanced at the ceiling and saw the detailed structure of it. I hope to see the completed work in 2026! I want to thank you and everyone who contributed to make the trip possible! At the Arènes d’Arles, there were about 40 guys in white outfits who would run by the bull and attempt to put rings on its horns without being killed.

I was impressed by the bus driver's ability to maneuver the narrow streets Racing right next to Monte Carlo F1 racetrack, definitely a highlight of the Europe trip.

Enjoying authentic crepes on the steps of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon.

Some of our chaperones.

Sunflower fields in Provence. Page 6

The stained glass, tiled columns, sculptures, roses, iron work, architecture of the Palau Music Palace in Barcelona. Best moments:  Watching Jasmine take on such a leadership role as concert master in Aix-de-Provence.  Listening to Hannah's oboe as our “Gabriel,” blushing as she was applauded, and sharing the emotional moment with her mother.  GOOSEBUMPS moments filled with pride in the incredible venue of Saint Saveur Cathedral, next to the yachts in the Villefranche-sur-Mer Citadelle, and facing the French Riviera in Menton.

Back from last concert in France. It was ridiculous. All I can say is people were crying, hats were in the air, and there was enough clapping to last a lifetime. Thank you France. The reactions from the audiences (young, old and in between) when YOBC played ... They liked the kids’ playing ... Really! Truly!

YOBC alumni enjoying the Côte d’Azur as members of the tour ensemble.

I had the absolute time of my life touring with my Youth Orchestra of Bucks County through France and Spain! Got to know really wonderful and talented people, played amazing concerts with a 1000 people audience right on the Mediterranean shoreline. Volume 4, Number 1, August 2012

What's important is that we saw, met, talked to people we would never have otherwise. And that intersection of consciousness is all that really matters, so for that, thank you, thank you all!

An elderly woman EAGERLY saved a seat for my daughter and me in Menton and asked me about my son playing in the orchestra. My daughter gave her a BIG hug after the third encore!

Many street performers in Avignon, there for promotional purposes of one of the MANY shows and events being held in the coming days.

I’d have to say the highlight was the concert at the Saint Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence. The orchestra sounded simply magnificent and the Vivaldi soloists were particularly memorable.

I can’t believe that the tour is already over! What a fast week! Definitely the best week and a half of my life!! So many amazing sights plus the best three concerts ever!! Page 7

252 Hollow Branch Lane Yardley, PA 19067 Email:

The YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF BUCKS COUNTY, Pennsylvania (Y OBC) was founded in 1991 with the spo nsorship and support of Bucks Coun ty Community College. Its mission is to create opportunities for young music ians to achieve artistic excellence thr ough enriching classical musical exp eriences. In 21 seasons the organization has grown from a single, 60-member ens emble to 12 ensembles with over 250 young musicians.

YOBC to Launch New Initiative – Students In Concert – in Bristol The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County will pilot test a new musical outreach initiative – Students In Concert – in the Bristol Township School District. This program is inspired by the hugely successful “El Sistema” youth-music initiatives that are being developed across the United States and around the world. Participants in these music education programs reap proven academic and social benefits associated with the serious study of classical music – among them confidence, a sense of community, commitment, and teamwork. Working with Keith Krelove, Music Instructor at Truman High School, Students In Concert will provide – at no cost to the school district – musical instruments, music scores, instructional specialists, and other support as needed to engage more students. Many students are precluded from participating in the school music program due to financial need. Mr. Krelove and his colleagues in the school music department have identified an exist-

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ing instrumental ensemble to serve as a cornerstone. From October 2012 through June 2013, YOBC will financially and musically support that ensemble to allow and encourage a greater number of stu-

“We are excited and fully committed to building this program into one that will spawn a new era of opportunity for our students and our community.” dents to participate, and to strengthen the educational experience for all students in the ensemble. Mr. Krelove is “proud and deeply honored that YOBC has chosen Bristol to pilot this initiative in the Bucks County area. The BTSD music staff, with the support of Dr. Samuel Lee, superintendent, are excited and fully committed to building this program into one that

will spawn a new era of opportunity for our students and our community. We at Bristol Township thank YOBC for this great opportunity.” “I grew up in the Farmbrook section of Bristol Township,” said Joe Hochreiter, Jr., President of YOBC, “and have directly seen the benefits that YOBC provided my own two children. YOBC’s Board wants to expand the reach of its classical musical programs to include more children, including from my hometown.” Generous philanthropic efforts led by the Allen Investment Group of Raymond James in Newtown are expected to fund the Students In Concert project. The group’s annual Wine Tasting event will be held on September 7, 2012 in New Hope, PA. All proceeds from this event will be provided to YOBC for the purpose of pilot testing our Students In Concert initiative. To purchase tickets to the Wine Tasting benefit or to donate to Students In Concert visit our website:

Keeping Tempo August 2012  

YOBC's quarterly newsletter

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