Formation of youth orchestra under way

Georgia Piedmont Youth Orchestra holding auditions Sat., Aug.17

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JOHNS CREEK, GA. – There is a wealth of untapped talent among North Fulton and Forsyth County young musicians that needs tapping, and a group of volunteers want to give them the forum to do it.

To that end the Georgia Piedmont Youth Orchestra auditions for grades 9-12 will be Saturday, Aug. 17, at Chattahoochee High School.

GPYO board member Lyman Louis said the need really hit home two years ago when they were lining up acts for the Arts on The Creek Festival in Johns Creek.

“We began to realize the incredible amount of talent there was in North Fulton County. Those who were really good found they had to go into Atlanta to play with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra or the Emory Youth Orchestra,” Louis said.

That meant about a four-or five-hour commitment for each rehearsal or class roundtrip, and that is particularly hard on students on a school night. An orchestra in this would give musicians a less onerous opportunity.

“We want to give them the opportunity to play in a well conducted orchestra here,”

Ideally, the GPYO Board would like to recruit 65 players, although it may take a year or two to reach that goal, Louis said.

The two Atlanta orchestras have about 120 players each, but that is with around 400 applying. So there is a need that GPYO would fill, he said.

The purpose of the orchestra is twofold. First it will give the musicians a venue in which to play. Second, it will provide the motivation and the atmosphere to learn.

“For instance there are some absolutely fabulous string orchestras in Johns Creek and Alpharetta. This will give those members a chance to play with a full orchestra,” Louis said.

Louis should know. He helped inaugurate two youth orchestras before, one when he lived in Westchester, N.Y., and the other when he lived in Vermont.

Rehearsals will begin Sept. 5 and will meet weekly throughout the school year, at Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek.

Though membership is open to all qualifying high school students, the GPYO is expected to draw players, from Forsyth, Cobb, Gwinnett and North Fulton counties. Musicians from over a dozen high schools (grades 9-12) as well as private and church schools have been invited to take part.

Funding will primarily come from student tuitions.

Michael Palmer, the Charles Thomas Wurm Distinguished Professor of Orchestral Studies at Georgia State University, has accepted the position of artistic director and conductor of the GPYO.

During his tenure as associate conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Palmer founded and was music director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. Palmer has gone on to enjoy a distinguished career as music director of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and the Bellingham Festival of Music.

In addition to gaining experience in playing with an orchestra with a talented conductor, the students will have the opportunity to learn and perform a “challenging” repertoire and build valuable experience for college applications, Louis said.

Audition and additional information is available online at the Georgia Piedmont Youth Orchestra’s website: www.gpyoa.org/. Rehearsals will be Thursday evenings at Chattahoochee High School during the school year.