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Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra

The Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra is among the oldest orchestras of its kind in California and has performed in Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, and toured in Germany, the Czech Republic, China, and most recently Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. Members typically have more performing opportunities than students in the Debut and Aspirante Orchestras and must be committed to a strict routine of rehearsals, private lessons and at-home practice. Music performed is from the standard symphonic orchestral repertoire. Members are typically ages 14-23. 

Formed in October 1959, as the Sonoma County Junior Symphony, under the direction of founding conductor Eugene Shepherd, the orchestra's name was changed, in 1994, to the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra and is currently led by Bobby Rogerspreviously Conductor of the Aspirante Youth Orchestra since 2011. A graduate of Sonoma State University (B.A. in Music Education and Jazz Performance) and Sacramento State University (M.A. in Wind Conducting), he has earned many top awards and honors for outstanding teaching. Rogers is currently the Music Director at Pioneer High School in Woodland, Director of Jazz Program at Solano Community College, adjunct Professor of Band at Woodland Community College and Artistic Director of the Yolo Community Band. He serves on the California Teachers Association State Council of Education.

The Youth Orchestra has helped prepare musicians who have pursued a professional music career with numerous professional ensembles throughout California, including the Santa Rosa Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Oakland Symphony, Musica Angelica, Sacramento Symphony and Napa Valley Symphony. 

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Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra Chamber Players



Chamber Music offers a unique music experience. Through Chamber Music, student musicians learn skills they do not learn in other settings. These skills can then be brought back to the larger orchestra or band context. These skills include:

  • Rhythm -  Because students are playing “one on a part”, they have to be very secure in their own part. Being able to play rhythms and maintain a steady pulse without benefit of a conductor is a skill that is crucial to the success of the chamber performance.
  • IntonationMusicians have to rely on their own ears to find the center of the pitch to match the other players. This is especially tricky in ensembles of diverse instruments.
  • Listening Playing in an ensemble without a conductor requires an enormous amount of listening. Players need to know the members’ parts almost as well as their own.  Listening allows the musicians to match articulation, rhythm, interpretation and pitch.


Often, youth orchestras will double and triple wind parts in the orchestra to accommodate many players.  At SRSYO, we believe there is more educational value for musicians to experience music as the composer intended. This gives us the incredible opportunity to have a Chamber Music Program. Every musician plays in the orchestra in an authentic setting and, when their piece is not being rehearsed, they have the opportunity to play chamber music.

While the musicians receive a certain amount of coaching, the priority is for them to run their own rehearsals – they are learning to rehearse themselves, critique themselves, and make musical decisions about the pieces they are working on.

2018-2019 was the second year of the program and saw tremendous growth. Thirteen chamber groups were formed. They gave formal concerts at churches in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, performed at Spring Lake Village and Fountaingrove Lodge and participated in the Human Race, Music Around Town, and the Railroad Square Music Festival. A similar schedule is anticipated for the coming season.
 


 

We gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions from the following:

 

Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra sponsored by the George L. Smith Jr. M.D. and Nancy Doyle M.D. Fund of the Community Foundation Sonoma County
Savannah Hill Music Scholarship Fund


 

Photos by Susan & Neil Silverman Photography

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Santa Rosa Symphony
Administrative Office:
Hours: M-F 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
50 Santa Rosa Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Administration: (707) 546-7097

Patron Services Hours: 
M-F - 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
W – 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Closed Saturdays & Sundays
Patron Services: (707) 546-8742