The Youth Orchestra of Greater Columbus will open is 25th season tomorrow evening with a collaborative concert featuring members of the orchestra on stage with Columbus' Voices of the Valley and The Columbus Ballet. The collaborative concert marks the first time all three youth organizations have performed together on stage.
Founded in 1993, the YOGC has grown from a small startup ensemble into two separate groups, the Youth Orchestra, made up of intermediate and advanced string, brass, wind and percussion musicians and the String Orchestra, composed of young string players. More than 100 students from over 20 area public, private and homeschools participate in the combined orchestras. An estimated 3,000 students have been reached in the Chattahoochee Valley throughout the organization's history.
Stephanie Payne, YOGC's Executive Director, said that the mission of YOGC has always been to provide opportunities for young people to learn, perform and enjoy classical music in the Chattahoochee Valley and beyond. Now, Payne is looking forward to the organization collaborating with other local youth arts organizations for the first time.
"This concert is all about celebrating young talent, and everyone involved agrees that this is a wonderful way to have children from all over our region with vastly different experiences interact as equals and partners."
Jenifer Sarver, Artistic Director of The Columbus Ballet, is thrilled for her students to be participating in the collaborative concert. "It is a fantastic opportunity for our ladies to connect with other young artists who express their talents in different - but similar ways," said Sarver. "It is also so vitally important for our dancers to be working on a main stage concert, with live music, at absolutely every opportunity."
Sarver said she and her dancers have had nothing but a positive experience working with the other organizations participating. "It’s been absolutely wonderful, and we are so glad to get to know other youth arts organizations better. I’ve been both delighted and impressed with the camaraderie and inclusion of the arts in Columbus. It makes us all so much stronger."
Columbus Ballet opens their production of The Nutcracker in less than two months, so Sarver said that getting the rehearsal time in for this concert hasn't been easy. "The only reason it has worked is that the dancers participating in these performances are an exceptional group of ladies; each one is not only a gifted and committed dancer- they are extremely intellectually able, and each one is a tremendous team player. We have a wonderful working relationship. This allows us to get through a volume of work that would not be possible with another group."
Sarver and Bridget Adams, one of Columbus Ballet's teachers and a former interim director, have both choreographed pieces for the concert. Adams choreographed Nella Fantasia, which will feature all three organizations. Sarver has choreographed the piece Rememberances, which YOGC and the Columbus Ballet will perform together. Sarver said she felt strongly about choreographing Rememberances for several reasons.
"Rememberances imagines the iconic figure of “the Little Girl in the Red Coat” from Schindler’s List having lived through the Holocaust. However, all the other girls and women from her shtetel have been killed. They exist for her only in her memory, and though so real for her, have been forcibly taken from this world," Sarver explained. "Spielberg gave humanity a true gift with Schlindler's List, and I try to both honor his work, as well as the horrors of the Holocaust, in each piece I choreograph on this theme."
Dr. Michelle Folta is the Executive Director for Voices of the Valley - the region's leading youth choir that just returned from a concert tour in England this Summer. Folta is thrilled to have her students included in the concert with Columbus Ballet and YOGC.
"If we are preparing our singers to be life-long learners of music, then learning to collaborate with professional organizations is key," Folta explained. "We all have a part in making this experience meaningful to each other and our audience."
Folta said she knew Voices of the Valley was ready for this type of collaborative concert after seeing their growth in the past few years as an ensemble.
"Following our England tour and our recent invitation to perform at the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference, I knew that Voices of the Valley was ready to collaborate with the elite YOGC and Columbus Ballet," Folta explained.
In addition to preparing the chorus, Folta will conduct Nella Fantasia. Sam Brown, Voices of the Valley's extraordinary pianist, will accompany the ensemble on the new CSO grand piano for the group's solo piece.
All three leaders of the organizations collaborating on YOGC's opening concert tomorrow night share the philosophy that collaboration is key for the development of their students.
Folta explained it most effectively when asked about the purpose of the collaborative concert. "Collaboration of children’s arts organizations is so important," she explained. "In our organizations, children learn to express themselves, and learn how to be more human. By sharing our experiences we build a stronger future for the Columbus community."
Payne agreed with Folta, and added that the importance of tomorrow night's concert goes far beyond a single evening. "We talk about collaboration all the time in Columbus in the arts industry," said Payne. "Collaboration between arts organizations, between nonprofits and businesses, funding partners. This time, we are working together to give Columbus’ talented singers, instrumentalists, and dancers an absolutely unique experience that pushes boundaries and exposes not only the performers but their families to new artistic disciplines." ◼︎
If You Go:
What: YOGC 25th Season Opening Concert, Presented in Partnership with The Columbus Ballet and Voices of the Valley
When: October 30, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bill Heard, RiverCenter for Performing Arts
Contact: Find more event information here.