Established in 1965, the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra provides a stimulating environment that encourages, challenges and develops the students’ fullest musical potential
The Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra (YYSO) was founded to give student musicians an opportunity to play music in a full symphony orchestra. Participation is by audition and students pay tuition to support operational expenses including conductor salaries, instrument coaching, rehearsal space, performance space and sheet music copyrights. Students from throughout the Yakima Valley, from Naches to the Tri-Cities, rehearse weekly under the direction of Bruce Walker. Musical rigor is high as symphony arrangements are of a caliber exceeding that which most students would experience at school. Indeed, school orchestras are rare; only two of the fifteen districts in Yakima County have high school orchestras. Moreover, these high school orchestras are strings only, with no percussion or woodwinds. Musicianship expectations are high with strict attendance requirements and adherence to professional standards of conduct. Additionally, the YYSO facilitates the function of the Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES!), under the direction of Christy Baisinger, to provide younger strings players a similar symphonic opportunity. Many YES! players advance to the YYSO.
Over the years, significant community support has positioned the groups to be far-reaching in their inclusion of students spanning the Valley, in sharing their gifts through community concerts and in giving back through a free, outreach KinderKoncert. Said support has included financial gifts to fund specific instrument purchases, to defray concert expenses and to fund student tuition; the YYSO is committed to providing equitable access for all students and endeavors to provide assistance in the event of financial hardship. The KinderKoncert is held in an authentic concert hall and introduces young children, students and their families to orchestral music in a relaxed and nurturing environment. After the concert, the YYSO opens an “instrument petting zoo” where children are given the opportunity to try out real instruments.
Annually, including the KinderKoncert, the YYSO and YES! perform three times at the Capitol Theatre, once at the Yakima Valley Museum and once at the Harman Center for Waltzing with the Youth Symphony. This variety of venues and audiences provides a diversity of performance experiences for these young musicians and keeps us closely connected with our community.
The YYSO and YES! are subsidiaries of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra (YSO). For more information, please visit ysomusic.org