35 Years of Sweet Music Brevard Youth Symphony Orchestra
You have a child who you believe shows musical talent. He loves when the itinerant music teacher offers time at his school. She pretends to play the violin when a song on the radio features a strings background. But what do you do?
Answer: You can do what Ava Howell and Jessica Woolery’s parents did. Contact Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra (BSYO) and involve your child with the more than 150 student musicians there.
Ava’s path progressed from violin study with Dr. Linda Utz a few weeks before her fifth birthday. Now in second grade, “Ava is learning to appreciate the efforts of artists who express themselves through a variety of forms, whether it is Native American storytelling, Hawaiian hula dancing or other visual and performing arts,” her father, Joel Howell, said. He especially likes the fact that age is not a factor; Ava has always practiced with students both older and younger than herself.
Jessica, a high school senior, similarly began playing viola with BSYO three years ago, after moving here from Jamaica. “Being a member of the orchestra built Jessica’s confidence, helped her to integrate into the American culture of fine arts/music, made it possible for her to participate in an extracurricular activity that allowed her to socialize with children with similar interests,” her mother, Marsha Woolery, said.
Both girls practice with their orchestra friends every Monday after school at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. Both have attended the BSYO summer camp whose director, Lisa McAlpine, also BSYO board president, shares her passions as “a love of great music, perseverance, excellence and friendship.” Lisa joined the board nine years ago and spearheads its ongoing growth.
She explains the process. Students audition in August for a seat in one of three groups: string ensemble, festivo ensemble or orchestra. Affiliated with the Brevard Symphony Orchestra, BSYO provides talented young musicians opportunities for both personal and musical growth through challenging weekly rehearsals, entertaining performances and local fundraisers. Scholarship funds are available to assist with membership costs.
"I get to work with some amazing people, both the teachers and my classmates,” said Robert Derosier, an 8th grader at Holy Trinity. “I just enjoy this music and I like playing with so many different people."
The artistic staff includes Chamber Orchestra Conductor Erik Bryan, now in his fourth year as the Eau Gallie High School and Johnson Middle School orchestra director. Festivo Conductor Michelle Fry-Eggen teaches at Melbourne High School as the orchestra and chorus directors and the International Baccalaureate® music instructor. Strings Ensemble Conductor Dr. Linda Utz currently runs the music program at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy. BSYO recently hired Nik Eggen, the versatile artist who will serve as wind ensemble conductor while teaching as the director of bands and music at Viera High School.
Through a variety of musical experiences, to provide ensemble opportunities that augment school-based music education for Brevard and surrounding counties students.
May 6, 2 p.m.: Spring Concert & Ice Cream Social, free and open to the public
June 18-22: Summer String Camp
August 2018: Season 35 auditions
October TBD: Fall Concert, free
Fall, 2018: Orchestras Feeding America. Since 2009, BSYO has donated 691 lbs of food for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
Ongoing performances for special needs children,Club Esteem, Senior Citizens, Alzheimer’s centers.
1500 Highland Avenue, Melbourne, FL 32935
P.O. Box 360553, Melbourne, FL 32936
1984 – Founded by Willem Bartsch
1994 – Expansion into Strings and Symphony groups
1999 - Renamed Strings to Concert Orchestra expanding to include winds and percussion
2000 – Added third group, the String Ensemble offered training for young strings students.
2003 – Pilot Chamber Ensemble launched
2006 – Creation of the annual Concerto Competition in collaboration with Brevard Children’s Chorus
2007 – Development of sectional programs with clinicians from BSO and Brevard schools.
2008 – 25th anniversary celebrated with four world premiers of original compositions; alumni returned to perform
Marcia Meskel-Macy serves on the BSYO board as a public relations specialist, educating the public on the training and performance opportunities for school-aged students in the immediate area. She brings 35 years of publishing experience, including mentoring students and teachers through more than 1,000 yearbooks as a publisher, 60 integrated media workshops as an instructor and countless high school and college conferences as a speaker.
As featured in our DIGITAL MAGAZINE.