For 100 years, the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras (WYO) have been providing young, aspiring Manitoba musicians with the opportunity to play symphonic music.
Founded in 1923 – making it the oldest youth orchestra in Canada – the WYO celebrates its centennial with a gala performance at the Centennial Concert Hall.
“It’s very special,” says Andrea Bell, who originally joined as a cellist at the age of 12. Apart from a few years off to study at university, she notes that she has spent “most of my life being with youth orchestra” – rejoining in 1997 as a conductor.
“It was a life-changing thing for me.”
Originally formed as a single orchestra, the WYO has grown to three ensembles – Youth Strings, Youth Concert, and Youth Symphony – which help support and develop young orchestral players.
Bolstering their ranks in the gala concert will be a group of alumni musicians plus the professional players of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra who, all together, perform Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, under the direction of maestro Julian Pellicano.
All told, they are expecting over 130 musicians on stage.
“It’s just such an amazing experience for the students to sit beside the pros,” says Bell. “It’s quite thrilling for the students.”
Equally thrilling will be the opportunity for alumni to reconnect, with musicians and conductors travelling back to Winnipeg to take part in the festivities, which also feature a pre-concert reception at the Red River Princess Campus.
“It’s going to be so lovely to see everybody,” says Bell. “It’s such a great community.”
WYO’s Centennial Celebration takes place on Tuesday, October 24. For more details and tickets, visit: www.winnipegyouthorchestras.ca