“ESYO’s playing . . . at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was sometimes so extraordinary that one might have mistaken it for a professional orchestra.”
Geraldine Freedman for The Daily Gazette, Nov. 2009
“ESYO is a community of students who love music and are able to pursue their passion with other people just like them. It’s been an outlet that has been instrumental in both my musical and personal growth.”
You may know ESYO from CBS 6′s annual Melodies of Christmas broadcasts. But ESYO is so much more . . .
300+ highly-talented young musicians in grades 4 – 12 from more than 75 schools and home-schools in the greater Capital Region and Western New England.
9 performing groups: 2 full orchestras; a wind orchestra; a string ensemble; 2 jazz ensembles; 3 percussion ensembles. Each group is conducted and coached by professional musicians.
Each season, ESYO ensembles collectively give about 30 public performances. Concerts are held in prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and Proctors Theatre. Throughout the year, small groups give recitals at schools, nursing homes, and senior centers.
ESYO provides free, private music lessons in an instrument training program for low-income youth in middle schools in Albany and Schenectady. Many of our concerts are free to reach underserved segments of the community including senior citizens and school children. ESYO’s Youth Orchestra has helped raise over $6 million for the pediatric oncology center at Albany Medical Center through its performances for 30 years in the annual Melodies of Christmas concerts.
ESYO’s Youth Orchestra has toured Europe four times; most recently visiting Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic. The Youth Orchestra has accepted an invitation to perform at the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, South Korea in July and the trip will also include travel/concerts in Seoul and in China (Beijing and Shanghai).
About one-half of ESYO’s expenses are taken care of by tuition and concert ticket sales; the balance is covered by generous donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. This support is vital in allowing ESYO to keep its tuition affordable and to keep ESYO from becoming an exclusive organization for the privileged. On average, it costs about $2,000 for each musician to participate in ESYO yet we only charge an average of $500 per musician.
Musicians of the future:
Between 35 and 50% of ESYO graduates pursue music as a career. Our alumni are found on stage performing classical and contemporary music in national orchestras or in small combos; backstage as arts managers, recording engineers, and composers; and in the classroom teaching the next generation of musicians.
ESYO was founded in 1979 by Barry Richman. With colleagues Lois Lyman and Eleanor Barnes, Richman gathered a group of parents and music educators to organize an orchestra for the region’s talented young musicians. For the first two seasons ESYO had only one ensemble – the Youth Orchestra. Over the years, additional ensembles were added to meet the needs of the community of young musicians and to provide an opportunity for younger, less-experienced players to start in one group and (with successful auditions) move into higher level groups.
Helen Cha-Pyo is in her ninth season as ESYO’s Music Director. Previous Music Directors, such as Victoria Bond, Eiji Oue, Paavo Järvi, and Francisco Noya, have gone on to illustrious, international conducting careers.
ESYO is committed to ensuring that our musicians are well versed; repertoire consistently includes both classical and contemporary music. ESYO was awarded a $100,000 grant from the New York State Music Fund at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors that partially funded a festival of contemporary music in March 2008. During the “New Music for a New Generation” festival, commissioned works from nine separate composers were premiered, one by each of ESYO’s ensembles.
During the regular season (September – May/early June) ESYO’s ensembles rehearse weekly in preparation for the many concerts each ensemble gives. The Youth and Repertory Orchestras also participate in a rehearsal-retreat weekend at the start of each season (which is the equivalent of a month’s worth of rehearsals) and throughout the season, they have coaching sessions (organized by instrument section) with professional musicians.
ESYO is a not-for-profit [501(c)(3)] organization supported by public and private funding and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.