This Thursday evening at the St. Luke Ministry Center, the Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus will perform their Spring Pops Concert of John Williams music. The concert is one of many performances YOGC gives each season as the program continues to recruit top talent from around the Chattahoochee Valley and the surrounding area.
YOGC strives to provide an environment where each student is exposed to studying and performing classical music at the highest level possible. In addition to exploring orchestral music, YOGC also teaches its students to value the arts as an enrichment in every aspect of life.
To get a better understanding of the experience YOGC gives to students, we interviewed two siblings involved in the orchestra's top ensemble. Read our interview with Joseph and Joanna Yang to discover what it's like to study and perform with YOGC each season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How long have each of you been studying music?
Joseph: I’ve studied violin since I was 3, so over 14 years now.
Joanna: I am currently 12 years old and I started violin when I was 3, so I have been learning for 9 years.
Q: What is your instrument, and which YOGC ensemble are you playing in this year?
Joseph: I play the violin, and I’m in the youth orchestra.
Joanna: I am playing the violin in the youth orchestra this year.
Joseph plays a solo in a YOGC concert. Image by Rob St. Clair.
Q: Who do you study with? What have your experiences been like?
Joseph: I study with Ruslan Apostolov, director of the Koart Academy of Music at First Baptist Church and graduate assistant student pursuing his artist’s diploma at Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music. Over the years, I have greatly enjoyed his expressive and free style of playing. He is a great mentor and teacher, and is very patient when I struggle to understand what he asks me to do.
Joanna: My teacher is Ruslan Apostolov. During my time as his student, I have experienced many new things such as taking ABRSM grade 5 exam (I got distinction the highest rank) and attending All-State for the first time. All these wouldn’t have been possible if not for his encouraging words and excellent teaching.
Figure Study of a young violinist by Gloria Mani.
Q: How has YOGC shaped you?
Joseph: I joined YOGC my freshman year, and looking back now as I near the end of my journey with the orchestra, I can definitely say that YOGC has positively shaped me as an individual and as a leader. I have learned to lead by example and be both positive and humble in my suggestions to my peers. I have gained valuable friendships since I began my career at YOGC, especially with those whom I have had the privilege to work with in chamber groups.
Joanna: Well, to be honest I do not really know. I had never played in an orchestra before this so being able to hear others play with me was a new experience. I enjoy listening to the other instruments and how they differ from the violin. I have learned how to lead my section (I was principal second violin last year) and how to follow a leader (I’m third chair first violin now). I now know how to control my bow speed to match the people surrounding me. Playing in an orchestra is very different than playing as a soloist. I have to listen a lot more and pay attention to what is going on. I have learned a lot from these things and grown both as a violinist and as a person.
(Left) Joanna in rehearsal for a YOGC concert. Image by Stephanie Payne.
Q: Do you know what you want to study in college yet?
Joseph: I really want to double major in music and economics, but I recognize that this may not happen as I applied to some quite selective schools. No matter what I end up major in, I still plan to keep music part of my life, whether through teaching or joining a college orchestra.
Joanna: No, I’m in 7th grade so I still have some time to think about it. I am just involved in so many things right now that it is hard to decide. In addition to playing the violin and YOGC, I also learn the piano and dance at the Columbus Youth Dance Conservatory. I really have no idea at this point but I’m sure that once I get into high school I will know.
The Youth Orchestra in concert. Images by Carrie Beth Wallace.
Q: How do you expect your time as a member of YOGC to prepare you for other things in life?
Joseph: Being part of YOGC has prepared me for other parts of life, especially as a leader. I am now encouraged to take leadership of my own life in college and beyond. Within a group of people, I am encouraged to take initiative. YOGC has paved the way for me to become a more determined, open, and aggressive individual.
Joanna: YOGC has taught how to be a leader and a teammate at the same time. I am sure that in the future I will be in a similar situation that will require both of these traits
Q: What are you most excited for about the Spring Pops concert?
Joseph: The music. This year's music is spot on. I'm sure the audience will enjoy it to the fullest.
Joanna: I am excited to play Indiana Jones because I love the score and the movie. It is so riveting and thrilling to hear the orchestra play it.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like for our audience to know before the concert?
Joseph: Be loud and don't be afraid to sing the lyrics to anything you know!
Joanna: Buckle up your seat-belts, because it is going to be a wild and thrilling ride!!!
If You Go
What: YOGC Spring Pops Concert
When: Thursday, February 27. Dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m. and the concert beings at 7 p.m.
Where: St. Luke Ministry Center
Tickets: Click here, and don't forget it's a Columbusite Night! Use code 'COLUMBUSITE' for 20% off your ticket purchase. *A LIMITED number of tickets will be available at the door! Advance reservations are highly suggested.