— Pamela Roth
In the summer of 1986, distinguished British musician Stuart Knussen sat down with a few teachers and parents to confide his passion to found a youth orchestra in Victoria.
He wanted young musicians to discover the joy of bringing to life the great masterpieces of music. Knussen’s dream soon grew into a reality when 40 young musicians came together to rehearse Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. Thus the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra (GVYO) was born.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the GVYO, which music director Yariv Aloni has been part of for the last 13 years.
The youngest of the 65 musicians are 12 years old and the oldest are in university. They hail from various areas throughout Greater Victoria and gather every Saturday morning for rehearsal.
“It’s an incredible dedication,” said Aloni, adding the young musicians have to audition to be in the orchestra.
Every year there’s almost a 30 per cent turn over in musicians, creating a constant learning curve for Aloni and the fresh crop of new faces. The pieces they perform are the same as a professional orchestra, he added, but many of the musicians have never performed with 65 other people.
“It takes great patience and a lot of love and a good sense of humour and of course incredibly hard work on all sides,” said Aloni. “It’s all new to them. Sometimes it could be the first time they play a certain composer. There’s no cynicism involved. There’s an incredible sense of discovery every time.”
This year the youth orchestra will perform three concerts at the University Centre Farquhar Auditorium. The first kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m., and the other two shows take place March 6 and May 1. The youth will perform pieces from famous composers such as Humperdinck, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.
The youth orchestra is also planning a special show with the Victoria Symphony in January.
For more information visit gvyo.org.