This fall marks the beginning of the Missouri Youth Orchestra, a youth performance organization sponsored by MU’s School of Music.
Conducted by Carrie Turner, formerly the conductor of the Missouri Symphony Society Youth Orchestra (MOSSYO), the new ensemble offers performance opportunities to auditioned wind, string and percussion players in grades eight through 12.
This is Columbia’s second youth orchestra. The other, sponsored by the Missouri Symphony Society, was conducted by Turner for eight years before last spring, when the symphony board granted leadership to Kirk Trevor, music director and conductor of the Missouri Symphony Orchestra. Turner declined to comment on the change in leadership.
Trevor’s vision for the group involves intense instruction in all aspects of music. In addition to performing major orchestral works, students will get music history lessons about the pieces, music theory and even conducting experience.
“Our end goal is to develop the musicianship of the members in the group,” Trevor said.
Both Trevor and Turner think there are enough young performers in the area to support two youth orchestras.
Melvin Platt, director of the School of Music, said parents and faculty are excited by the opportunity for MU involvement. A group of parents approached the school early last spring with a request to start a group affiliated with the university, he said. Platt decided to give it a try, basing it upon the models of youth music programs at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his experience while working at the University of Oklahoma.
Melinda Elmore of Ashland, whose son, Andrew Turner, a sophomore at Southern Boone County High School, plays trumpet in the new group, said this was his first chance to play with strings.
“This’ll broaden him musically,” Elmore said. “It’ll give him a chance to meet other kids who are similarly interested in improving their musicianship.”
She said her son heard about the group from Carrie Turner when she spoke to his high school band.
At the first rehearsal last month in MU’s Loeb Hall, parents from Ashland, Jefferson City and Hallsville also said their children heard about the new group from school presentations by Turner. Others said their children chose to move to the Missouri Youth Orchestra because they liked Turner as a conductor.
The Symphony Society Youth Orchestra, which meets at the West Junior High band room, also had a wide geographic pull. Students from Jefferson City, Columbia, Fayette, Mexico and Boonville attend the group’s rehearsals, Trevor said.
Platt, director of MU’s School of Music, views the Missouri Youth Orchestra as an enrichment opportunity for the students. “Those students will profit greatly from the expertise our faculty possess,” he said. In addition to performing with the group, students will have opportunities to attend various clinics given by the faculty throughout the year.