The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, at 140 years old, isn't the only member of the family celebrating a milestone birthday. The St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, founded in 1970 by then-Assistant Conductor Leonard Slatkin, turns 50 this year. Formed to train well-rounded young musicians from throughout the region, the YO has performed for presidents, toured Europe, and has continued to develop the country's brightest young musicians through concerts in Powell Hall, mentorship opportunities, and coaching with SLSO musicians.
On January 11, 2020, the YO celebrated its 50th anniversary by inviting alumni to return to the very stage that launched lifelong passions for music. Alumni, both professional and amateur musicians, came from across the country for a play-in event and free community concert that attracted hundreds of people. The event served not only as a concert, but as a reunion for friends who all share a love of music.
Here are some sights from the festivities:
Kevin McBeth led the concert, which included works by Shostakovich, Sibelius, Brahms, and John Williams. Angie Smart, SLSO first violinist, served as the concertmaster for the YO50 Concert. Her son Theo Bockhorst, left, serves as the current co-concertmaster of the YO. The finale of the program, John Williams' main title from Star Wars, saw the full forces of current YO members and alumni. Christine Taussig Sasse, the concertmaster of the inaugural YO, welcomed the crowd of several hundreds people to Powell Hall. At the conclusion of the concert, everyone was invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the YO with cupcakes and champagne in the Wightman Grand Foyer. Sgt. Mark Latimer, principal timpanist in the President's Own United States Marine Band and YO alum, thanked the crowd attending the January 11 free concert and explained the YO's influence on his life as a professional military musician. YO alum were invited to wear t-shirts from their years in the ensemble at the YO50 Play-In event. Jasmine Scott has gone on to a career in music therapy after her time in the YO. Current YO musicians shared stands with alumni at the concert. Becky Boyer Hall, center, was a student at Kirkwood High School when she was in the YO. She is now a member of the SLSO's second violin section. From left to right: Felicia Foland (SLSO second bassoonist), Lind Gurney, Scott Hammann, and Joyce Hammann (current concertmaster for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway).
Photos by Dilip Vishwanat