Youth Orchestras on campus to supplement private lessons

Daily Sundial

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The CSUN Youth Orchestras began their 2005-2006 season three weeks ago and are now in preparation for their first performances in November.

Though not widely talked about across campus, the CSUN Youth Orchestras have been operating at CSUN since the 1970s.

In 1970, Thomas Osborn founded what became two full-sized orchestras, one named the Valley Young People’s Orchestra and the other the Valley Youth Symphony.

In fall 1977, the head of the Music Department at the time approached Osborne and asked if he would be willing to bring the orchestras to CSUN, said Joyce Osborn, Osborn’s wife.

The orchestras evolved into the CSUN Youth Orchestras that exist today.

John Roscigno, professor in the Music Department, serves as the music director of the CSUN Youth Orchestras. Additionally, he is the conductor for the CSUN Symphony Orchestra at CSUN and serves as director of orchestral activities.

The orchestras consist of a junior wind symphony, camerata strings ensemble, symphony orchestra, and philharmonic orchestra.

Youth Orchestra members range from ags 6 to 18 and come from various schools. They are placed in the various ensembles based on skill level, with the philharmonic orchestra being the most highly selective. They are chosen for the philharmonic orchestra following highly competitive auditions.

According to Roscigno, the mission of the Youth Orchestra program is to help supplement the students’ private lessons and school music experiences with help from highly trained musicians and conductors.

Meggan McGrath, third year participant in the Youth Orchestras and member of the philharmonic orchestra, described all her experiences as positive.

“The symphony gave me orchestral experience I’d never had before,” McGrath said.

Eighty percent of the students come from the Valley, while other students travel a farther distance, according to Roscigno.

“(CSUN) is where a lot of the fine talent from the Valley and surrounding areas have the opportunity to play together,” said Judith Hennessy, former vice president of the Valley Youth Orchestras Association and current board member.

The program also provides an opportunity to music majors at CSUN who can volunteer their time to practice teaching music to the students.

“We’re lucky to have the talent in the Music Department to allow us to offer these programs,” Hennessey said.

According to Roscigno, the program also serves as a tool for the potential recruitment of students to the CSUN campus. Many orchestra students do not go into music performance as a major, but rather they choose majors in the math and science fields.

Each year graduates of the CSUN youth philharmonic are recruited by colleges such as Berkeley, Brown, Harvard, Yale, and UCLA.

The first performance of the year will feature the youth philharmonic orchestra and will take place in the Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6.

Michael Salseda can be reached at michael.salseda@gmail.com.