Sweet music for a year from area youth symphony

The South Valley Youth Symphony practices during rehearsals

– More than 25 young musicians in the South Valley Youth
Orchestra fill the Gilroy High School band room with classical
music every Tuesday evening.
GILROY – More than 25 young musicians in the South Valley Youth Orchestra fill the Gilroy High School band room with classical music every Tuesday evening. This week, they took a quick break to celebrate their one-year anniversary when board members, parents and students gathered to recognize their accomplishments and enjoy some sweet treats.

“We’ve done it. We have actually done what we set out to do,” SVYO Board President Rosalie Bruning said. “All the kids can be very proud of what they’ve done.”

Bruning said the orchestra, made up of students from Gilroy, Hollister and Morgan Hill, has been successful because of the dedicated board, hard-working parents and supportive community.

“It was a challenge. None of us have done this before,” Bruning said. “We’ve learned a lot, and if we did it again it would go smoother.”

Jim McCann said his 10-year-old daughter Maria, who has played violin since she was 5 years old, has benefited from playing in the group.

“The orchestra provides a broader repertoire, an introduction to more complex music,” McCann said. “Playing at this advanced level is really stretching her as a musician.”

The students in the organization have the opportunity to play in an orchestra with many other instruments and work under the direction of Conductor Vincent Gomez.

Maria McCann said she loves being a part of the orchestra.

“I like the songs. Some of them are really fast tempo and go high. They are challenging,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot. I can play better and note read better.”

SVYO was created last year by a group of dedicated parents and community volunteers who saw a need to expand the musical opportunities for young performers.

After traveling to England with her daughters and the South Valley Suzuki String Academy based Antonio del Buono last spring, Bruning came home energized to make the long-time dream of a youth orchestra in South County a reality.

SVYO formed a board of directors, gained non-profit status and solicited the help of Gomez to get the project off the ground. Gomez has extensive experience as a youth orchestra conductor, music educator and performing musician. He is currently artist in residence at Lincoln High School, San Jose school’s performing arts magnet. He also is emeritus faculty at Cabrillo College and has taught and conducted at University of California at Davis.

“He shows you how to do things,” Maria McCann said. “He will physically show you how to play.”

Last April, the organization held a pilot session which culminated with a concert in June. Any young musicians were welcome so the organization could build up a following of students to audition in December.

The orchestra currently is preparing for a concert to be held June 2 at the Gilroy High School Theater. A new director will probably take Gomez’s place next season, although he will continue as a consultant.

The board hopes to get enough musicians to have an advanced orchestra as well as a “teaching orchestra.” They also would like to collaborate more often with the South Valley Symphony, a group of adult performers that rehearses at Gavilan College. When the orchestra is well established, it hopes to take a small group of students to perform at local schools. They are currently working with school music teachers to let them know young musicians are welcome to join the symphony.

“We have built up a core of community support and the strong board of directors is working to ensure the continuance of the orchestra,” Bruning said. The group has secured several grants and private donations that will carry them through at least next year.

Students practice every Tuesday from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Gilroy High School band room. Those interested in learning more about SVYO or auditioning in June can contact Bruning at 778-6905 or Jean Lance at 842-4196.

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