Marilyn Kesler conducts the SYOA at the 2010 Conference

SYOA 2, conducted by Marilyn Kesler

Young musicians from both North and South America joined together at this year’s “Teamwork” Conference to form two outstanding string orchestras—Suzuki Youth Orchestras of the Americas I and II. Each child arrived at the conference very well prepared, having worked on the music with his/her home teacher. Then, with expert guidance from two amazing conductors, Winifred Crock (SYOA 1) from St. Louis, Missouri, and Marilyn Kesler (SYOA 2) from Okemos, Michigan, students worked diligently forming two fantastic sounding “teams.”

The weekend kicked off on Thursday with full orchestra rehearsals, followed by a delicious ice cream social at the Hilton Minneapolis. Early Friday morning at the Minneapolis Convention Center, full rehearsals and sectionals for each orchestra were held and new musical friendships were formed. A big thanks goes out to the superb sectional leaders who went above and beyond in volunteering their time and wisdom to these children: Sharon Miller (VA), Chris Fiore (IL), Robert Richardson (MB, CAN), Charles Krigbaum (TX), Nicolette Solomon (TX), Andrea Yun (MI) and Emmett Drake (CT). Our bassists also got a helping hand from Ryan Bell (UT) and Chet Wells (IL).

After a fabulous weekend of rehearsals, masterclasses, improvisation classes, concerts, beautiful weather and the Hilton pool, the Sunday afternoon SYOA concert arrived. Following a terrific performance by the Flute ensemble led by Sasha Garver (NM), the excited SYOA students took their places on stage in front of a packed audience of parents, siblings, teachers and other student performers.
SYOA 1, the younger orchestra, performed works entitled American Reel, Don Quixote Suite, Ballad for a Summer’s Day, and Blue Rhythmico among others. The string players, including cellists, had fun taking turns standing up while they played the melody during Arkansas Traveler!

SYOA 2, ages 10-12, announced each piece they performed—works by Glazunov, Dello Joio, Bartok, Mozart/Brown and Rutter. They even played an encore by Albinoni without the conductor! Both performances were outstanding, both technically and musically. Many tears were shared by both parents and conductors as a majority of the students exclaimed that they did not want their weekend of learning and fun to end!

The DVD of these great performances can still be purchased on the SAA website. Teachers, please remember to inform your young students of this amazing opportunity for them in about 1.5 years!

Many thanks to Ms. Crock and Ms. Kesler as well as all of the SYOA parents and students for all that they gave to this year’s conference and final performance. Bravo!