2022 International Tour Announcement!

DCYOP’s Youth Orchestra, our most advanced ensemble, will travel to Seville, Spain, spend a day in Córdoba, and visit the Alhambra, perform in Lisbon, Portugal and Málaga and Torremolinos, Spain, rehearse, take masterclasses, and perform with Orquesta ProMusica during a 10-day tour, June 25-July 4, 2022.

Touring is a transformational experience our students look forward to for years. Students experience a new culture and foods, see how orchestras work in another part of the world, and share time with friends who share a passion for music, away from the stresses of daily lives, with some independence to explore, as well. Many alumni remember it as their defining experience with the organization.

“Touring is such an exciting element of being in a youth orchestra and it brings so many dividends to our students,” says Kenneth Whitley, a Principal Conductor for the Youth Orchestra. “The trips are such bonding moments, they’re moments that reveal what we’re capable of being with each other. I’m very excited that we’re going back to Spain.”

After two challenging years, the tour is an opportunity for talented and hardworking youth to celebrate and take pride in their accomplishments. We want to show our students, especially our younger students, who look up to the Youth Orchestra, that resiliency and perseverance can pay off.

Touring is a deeply ingrained tradition at DCYOP. The organization has toured 23 countries, including Japan and South Africa and, most recently, Italy in 2018, Chile in 2016 and Colombia in 2014.

Student-musicians who are not currently a part of the DCYOP community are encouraged to audition by submitting a video by Dec. 17. Read more about the audition requirements and tour details below. Financial assistance is available and all students, regardless of ability to pay, are encouraged to apply.

Throughout the pandemic, safety has been DCYOP’s top priority, along with our commitment to providing a meaningful music learning experience. Working with WorldStrides, the tour organizer, and our own health advisors, we are committed to creating a safe and meaningful experience.

Program Spotlight: Living a Musical Life Through the Talent Development Program

By Lucy Hattemer, Program Manager


It takes a lot to succeed in the music world. Orchestra rehearsals, sectional classes, weekly private lessons, connections to professional musicians, performance opportunities, time for regular practice, knowledge of summer programs…the list goes on, and it all adds up to create a high barrier to participation.


At DCYOP, we believe that all young people should have access to the transformative power of music education. For us, this means meeting students where they are and supporting them with the resources they need in their personal journeys.


Three years ago we launched the Talent Development Program to address some of the barriers students face in pursuing music at a high level. All TDP students meet with professional musicians who serve as mentors, helping students define and pursue their goals. Some families need additional financial assistance, and these students also receive weekly private lessons and full orchestra scholarships through TDP.


Oscar was one of the first students to be accepted into the program. When he first joined DCYOP five years ago, he played bassoon in one of DCYOP’s intermediate ensembles, the Repertory Orchestra. He attended every orchestra rehearsal on Saturdays and practiced on his own throughout the week. Before TDP, he did not take private lessons.


Oscar’s mom, Carolina, talked about their commitment to music education.


“It’s important for us that Oscar evolves and grows musically with help from professional musicians, but that’s very expensive,” she said. “We wanted to take the opportunity to have that support.”


Oscar joined TDP and three years later he now plays in the wind section with our top two ensembles, the Youth Orchestra and the Youth Philharmonic. He takes weekly lessons with Dr. Amylia Barnett through TDP. Oscar said he appreciates the opportunity to work one-on-one with her on technique.


“TDP helps me single out every aspect of music I did not know I was supposed to study,” Oscar said, “stuff like: in rehearsal, I could only hear myself and others. Practicing in TDP I was able to hear myself (alone) and continue improving.”


“My favorite part is being able to single out measures and sections that are difficult, both in orchestra repertoire and solo pieces, and get better at them.”


Like Oscar, some students are interested in performing professionally. Other students are interested in composition, music therapy, or music education – or a path entirely outside of music. We adjust the program to address individual students’ needs and interests. This means that students work with a broad range of teachers and mentors, including orchestral musicians, arts administrators, music teachers, and even a horn player who played at the Grammys with Lizzo.


Choosing the Music: Fun and Serious Work

By Evan Ross Solomon, Artistic Director


Each year, one of the most fun parts of my job is choosing repertoire for our ensembles. It is also a challenge: as Artistic Director, I must balance the pedagogical needs and desires of our students, the interests of our principal conductors, and the current trends in concert programming.


It’s a great joy and an honor to work with all of our conductors to choose music for our 10 ensembles. In particular, choosing music for the Youth Orchestra, our top ensemble, is a challenge. 


The orchestral repertoire is vast, so finding the right piece is like finding a needle in a haystack. Since we are coming back from the pandemic and the absence of our regular weekly rehearsals, we programmed two traditional works, the Schubert Unfinished Symphony, and the Karelia Suite by Sibelius. These works are geared to re-energize our group and reinforce the ensemble playing skills that may have been forgotten over the long layoff. 


This year, we are fortunate to have a very strong string section, so we also chose a rare but very charming piece by Swedish composer, Dag Wiren. His Serenade for Strings showcases our students and challenges them to play together as a section. 


We are especially excited to include two new works by contemporary composers of color—works that were commissioned by and for us through a partnership led by the National Orchestral Institutes K-12 educational commissioning project. 


At the winter concert, the Youth Orchestra will play a piece by Adrian B. Sims, a local composer whose work, Undiscovered Pathway, is an atmospheric work for string orchestra. It starts with a very transparent and serene, slow opening section where the different sounds of the instruments slowly emerge and coalesce. It builds and builds to a climactic moment followed by a fast, exciting ending to round out the piece. It has a cinematic vibe to it, and makes great use of the colors of the instruments. 


The ensemble will later play a work by Kerwin Young, iconic hip-hop producer and member of the GRAMMY Award winning group Public Enemy, who has become a prolific classical composer. His work, SULWE: A Symphonic Journey, will be performed this spring. 


DCYOP is committed to making sure our students can see themselves represented in the music they play. And we take seriously our larger obligation to be stewards of progress in diversifying the classical music world.


We go through a similar process for each of our nine ensembles, considering and narrowing down our lists of many pieces of music through extensive discussions with our composers. Together, we chose music that showcases and challenges our student’s abilities to create a program that we believe is fun, challenging, and representative of what we are trying to do at DCYOP!