Announcing Our Next International Tour…

It’s official: DCYOP’s Youth Orchestra will be going to Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic on our next international tour in summer 2024! From July 8-16, our most advanced full symphonic student orchestra will travel to Munich, Vienna and Prague where they will give performances in each city and enjoy some of the most beautiful historic sites in Europe.

“As both a musician and conductor, I have witnessed the transformative effects of international tours firsthand,” says Artistic Director, Evan Ross Solomon. “Each trip reveals something special and unique about our students and orchestra, and the impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.”

Touring is a deeply ingrained tradition at DCYOP. The organization has toured 24 countries, including Japan and South Africa and, most recently, Spain and Portugal in 2022, Italy in 2018, Chile in 2016 and Colombia in 2014.  We are excited to once again offer this opportunity for our talented and hardworking advanced students and inspire our younger musicians as they rise through the ranks of our nine progressive ensembles. 

Student-musicians who are not currently a part of the DCYOP community are strongly encouraged to  register for our upcoming auditions on August 19th and 26th in order to earn a spot on the Youth Orchestra roster for the upcoming season, including next summer’s tour. Financial assistance is available and all students, regardless of ability to pay, are encouraged to apply.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to stay up to date on the latest announcements as we have more details to share!

DC Youth Orchestra Program Welcomes Loretta Thompson as New Executive Director

After a nearly year-long national search, the DC Youth Orchestra Program is getting ready to welcome its fifth executive director to lead D.C.’s oldest and nationally recognized youth orchestra.

Loretta Thompson, most recently Chief Program Officer of Sitar Arts Center, in Washington, D.C., will take over leadership of the 63-year-old ensemble-based orchestral music education program at the end of May.

“We feel that Loretta’s background working with diverse communities and the fact that she used her medium — visual arts — to communicate and bring people together, make her the right person to do that with music at DCYOP,” said Robert Blaine, president of the board of DCYOP. “We want to make sure this opportunity is available to as diverse a set of students as possible. Her lived experience and her artistic experience position her well to succeed in achieving our mission of transforming young people’s lives through music, and making DCYOP Washington’s youth orchestra”

Thompson has led and developed arts education for youth and young adults, with a focus on access and community-building. At Sitar Arts Center, she created a parent engagement program, a teen leadership program, and a summer camp. She collaborated with architects and engineers to design a facility expansion for teens and young adults, with a focus on creative spaces and an arts career training program. She will be the first Black person to serve as executive director at DCYOP.

Music education at the highest levels pays dividends beyond musical excellence, she says: “I know people who are musicians and music educators today because of the experience they had in my high school music program with one teacher. I have seen shy, quiet spoken teens become leaders and politicians. Some of the most troubled youths have graduated in the top 10 percent of their class because of their participation in music programs and dedicated music educators.”

Thompson has a master’s in arts management from George Mason University and a bachelor’s in fine arts in sculpture from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She volunteers as chair of the Ward 5 Education Equity Committee, volunteers with First Generation College Bound, and was a parent leader with PAVE, a parent education advocacy group in D.C. 

“I was drawn to DCYOP by its clear passion for transforming young people’s lives through music,” Thompson said. “And by the way it incorporates diversity, equity, and especially inclusion, into every aspect of its programs, something that has long been part of my professional work and commitment. Many organizations talk about diversity, equity and inclusion — DCYOP has a deserved reputation for the way it makes inclusion the starting point, not an afterthought.”

Evan Ross Solomon, who has served as DCYOP’s artistic director and principal conductor for 10 years, says Thompson is a proven leader in the arts world and a visual artist herself, with an understanding of what it means to be an artist. 

“She understands the value of belonging and the need to have that for every one of our students for them to be their best, as musicians and as people,” Ross Solomon said. “And she is someone who’s committed to our community approach but will also bring a fresh perspective to what we do.”

DCYOP is the only preK-12 program in the DMV area that makes high quality ensemble music education available to all students, regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or ability. Every student is accepted and placed in one of nine ensembles designed to meet students at every stage of their musical journey. 

Elizabeth Schurgin, who served as executive director for nine years, left the role in August 2022. Ed Spitzberg, who serves on the Interim Executive Network’s steering committee and leads Spitzberg Advisors, a strategy consultancy for nonprofits, has served as interim executive director since. Creative Evolutions led the talent search process for DCYOP.

Spring 2023 Concerts Are Here!

Celebrate the end of the 2022-2023 season with us as all ten DCYOP ensembles PLUS our beginner students take the stage. Here’s what you need to know:

Saturday, June 10th – 3:00 PM
The Youth Orchestra performs on the Concert Hall stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This performance is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.


Saturday, May 20th – 12:00 PM
Debut performances by our 2022-2023 class of beginner students.

Saturday, May 20th – 4:30 PM
Performances by the Debut Orchestra, Premiere Winds, Concertino, and Sinfonia

Sunday, May 21st – 1:00 PM
Performances by the Young Artists, Wind Ensemble, and Repertory Orchestra

Sunday, May 21st – 4:30 PM
Performances by the Youth Philharmonic, Young Virtuosi, and Youth Orchestra

Our May 20th and 21st concerts will take place at the UDC Theater of the Arts, located near the intersection of Connecticut Ave NW and Windom Place NW on the UDC campus. Concerts are free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

Senior Spotlight: Henry and Corinne Hess

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While DCYOP has proudly offered instrumental and ensemble training for children from age four and a half through high school for decades, how many students have actually taken this thirteen-and-a-half-year-long journey with us from start to finish?

There are quite a few DCYOP “lifers,” and some families whose kids have each gone through the program one after another. But more than one kid at the exact same time? Twins Corinne and Henry Hess may be the first in DCYOP history. For them, it all started at the neighborhood farmer’s market.

“When I was around four years old, I saw two women playing the violin at a farmer’s market,” Henry recalls. “I really wanted to do what they did, so at four and a half, I started playing the violin with DCYOP and then switched to the viola at age twelve.”

For Corinne, it was more a matter of family logistics, but it turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for both siblings. “I started playing because my brother expressed interest in playing a string instrument,” says Corinne. “My parents wanted to keep us together, so they enrolled us in DCYOP. I started playing the recorder when I was four and a half and eventually switched to oboe at age eight. I’ve been playing the oboe for almost ten years now, and I love it!”

Being a part of DCYOP for so many years gave Henry and Corinne the time and space to grow as young musicians and develop life skills that transfer beyond the concert stage. “My favorite thing about DCYOP is the resources it has given me,” Corinne shares. “I’m a more confident player and leader because DCYOP has encouraged me to find and share my strengths.”

A true sense of community and belonging also played a big role in keeping them coming back year after year.

“I love that DCYOP gives me the chance to play with a diverse group of students from across the DC metro area,” says Henry. “It has allowed me to learn and grow with people I may have never met without orchestra. These are friends and experiences I will keep with me for life.” Corinne adds, “I love the close-knit community that I am a part of at DCYOP. The staff, fellow musicians, and conductors are always there for me when I need them.” 

And what does the future hold for the Hess twins? This fall, Henry will attend the University of Washington, where he plans to major in Medical Laboratory Science and minor in either music or Native American studies. Corinne is excited to head to the University of California, Berkeley. Both are hoping to play in their school orchestras alongside their studies.

Corinne and Henry along with fellow senior, Liberty Kessler, after their December performance with YO.

Before then, they still have a few special performances to give with our Youth Orchestra – first, at our spring concerts at UDC in late May and then in early June, in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. Last year’s Kennedy Center performance stands out as a favorite memory for both young musicians. “It was a really exciting and exhilarating experience for me,” says Henry. “It makes me so happy that I was able to play at such an amazing venue with my friends and peers.” Corinne echoes Henry’s feelings. “I had such a blast playing with my friends, and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

It will be an epic conclusion to a lifetime of music-making with us, something Corinne hopes more students will get to experience for themselves. “I love DCYOP, and I think every kid should be given the opportunity to be a part of our community!”

Executive Director Search

DCYOP is pleased to announce that we have launched our search for our next Executive Director.  Please see our position description and how to apply. For any questions about the position or the process, please contact our search consultants, Creative Evolutions:

Winter Concert Recordings Now Available!

Kick off your 2023 by reliving the magic of our December concerts – videos are available on our YouTube channel now. Hear everyone from our beginning string student ensembles through our full symphonic orchestras performing a wonderful array of music that will brighten your day. 

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Get to Know DCYOP: Austin Adaranijo

For our latest edition of Get to Know DCYOP, we thought it would be fun to introduce you to one of our students, horn player Austin Adaranijo. Read on to learn more about Austin, how he get started and some of his favorite experiences as both a member of our Youth Orchestra and the Washington Musical Pathways Initiative.


My name is Austin Adaranijo, and I am a horn player at the DC Youth Orchestra (DCYOP) and a member of the Washington Musical Pathways Initiative (WMPI). The first time I ever picked up an instrument was in sixth grade, when I started on the trumpet. My band teacher told me that she needed a horn for the following year and that she wanted me to do it. So, in seventh grade, I began playing the horn, and I’ve been doing so for the past four years.    

I first joined DCYOP because a family friend told my dad about the program. During this time, I had just started playing the horn and was enjoying it. My dad thought it would be a good idea to broaden my perspective on music outside of my middle school band; he took me to the audition, and I made it into the Repertory Orchestra (RO). The one thing I remember Maestro Solomon saying to me at the audition was, “thank you for choosing to play French horn.”

DCYOP is the orchestra program where I’ve most grown in my musicianship and the place where I’ve been introduced to the most classical music. There hasn’t been an experience here that I haven’t enjoyed. One of my favorite experiences with DCYOP was my first performance. This was my first orchestra performance ever! Although the music wasn’t that difficult, I was extremely nervous that I would mess up because I was the only horn in RO at the time. I played well in the concert, and numerous people congratulated me afterwards. It felt amazing. Another one of my favorite memories is the 2022 Spain and Portugal tour; it was one of the best musical experiences I’ve had. We rehearsed for hours outside of normal rehearsal to put together our concert program, and it was so rewarding to perform in 1,000-year-old castles and famous concert halls across the world.

The first time I heard of the Pathways program was in DCYOP. I thought it would be something good to try because I wanted to experience something closer to the life of a professional musician. I also thought the reasoning behind it was great: trying to support underrepresented BIPOC musicians pursue successful careers in the orchestral world. It was, and still is, a little intimidating with the juries and papers and applications, but it is preparing me for what’s to come, which is why I’m still in it. My favorite thing about the program is that everything it does is for the benefit of the student. Personal mentors, juries, masterclasses, instrument purchases, college assistance, trial lessons—all of this is to help the student succeed wherever they want to go in music.

One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had with Pathways was the 2022 Chicago Youth in Music Festival and National Pathways Summit. Pathways students from all over the country come to one state once a year and perform a piece together with a famous orchestra, usually with a world-renowned conductor. In 2022, the festival was held in Chicago, performing Listz’s Les Préludes with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Maestro Riccardo Muti. This was an amazing experience; not only did we get to perform with Maestro Muti conducting, but we also were able to rehearse with him. On top of all of that, we were able to play a piece by Valerie Coleman under the direction of the LA Opera’s resident conductor, Maestra Lina González-Granados. She was extremely engaging and very prepared. Every time she stepped on the podium, she got straight to what she needed to do. Performing with her is not only something that I will never forget, but also the audience. There were many people who got emotional because of our performance, and that shows how powerful her impact was.

One of the driving forces behind my joining a lot of orchestras, bands, chamber groups, and Pathways is to help me decide if this is something I would like to pursue after high school. So far, although my schedule is never empty, I love having this much music in my life. Music is not the only thing I would like to pursue. I have a great interest in science as well, and I was thinking about doing a double major in music and biochemistry or cell biology. Overall, I’m still in the undecided stage of picking my major(s), but I do want to plan on pursuing music and science.

Outside of classical music and playing the horn, I also like to learn how to play other instruments. I play various woodwind instruments in the pit orchestra at my school. Last year, I played flute, tenor saxophone, and baritone saxophone for my school’s production of Hairspray, and this year I will be playing tenor sax, flute, and bass clarinet in my school’s production of SpongeBob the Musical. Although my schedule never lacks music, I still find time to do things outside of music, including photography, reading biology texts, hanging out with my friends, and watching shows on Netflix.

Despite everything I do with music, I actually do not have a favorite musician or composer. I’ve played a lot of music: Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Copland, and more. Out of all the music I’ve played or heard, there hasn’t been a piece that I didn’t like or haven’t grown to like. I am very indecisive, so I feel like picking a favorite musician or composer would be like limiting myself to only truly enjoying that person’s music.

Coaching Young Musicians to Connect with their Inner Voice

Eva Cappelletti Chao knows the struggles of young musicians very well. Not only is she a professional violinist who has played with major orchestras and in famous venues around the world, but she is also the parent of a busy DCYOP student AND a certified life coach who specializes in helping musicians at all stages of their careers learn to navigate challenges by connecting their authentic self with their artistic self.

“I am finding that the spaces I am creating are rare, very meaningful, and so wanted by musicians of every age and stage of their journey,” Ms. Cappelletti Chao shares. “There is an increasing awareness that we need to support our inner well-being as musicians as we focus on the outer well-doing of our discipline.”

This November, Ms. Cappelletti Chao conducted a workshop with students in our Young Virtuosi ensemble  to introduce them to the importance of understanding how our brains work, discuss the power our thoughts can have over our sense of self, and teach them some specific strategies for managing negative or discouraging thoughts. Students also had the opportunity to write their own personal internal commitment to help remind themselves of the skills they learned and empower themselves to move towards achieving their goals.

“It was a privilege to work with your teen musicians of YV!” Ms. Cappelletti Chao shares. “I found them to be curious and honest in talking about their inner experiences as musicians and also quite open to trying perspective-opening tools.  The insights they shared with each other empowered some of them to set their own unique intentions for themselves as musicians; onstage and off.”

While many seemed unsure of what to expect initially, the resulting conversation seemed to help foster a greater sense of connection and camaraderie within the group. As one student shares, “I thought it was really interesting to hear people’s thoughts about DCYOP (good and bad) and I think it would be helpful to have more workshops that focus on the mental health part of orchestra.” 

Other students were eager to share with parents and teachers what they learned and how they might incorporate it into their daily practice. “I’m really grateful you held a special workshop like that,” one YV parent shares. “It’s hard to get through to teens who tend to have a black-and-white outlook. It’s normal – their brains are wired that way for now. I really appreciate that you are helping students develop more fully psychologically as well as musically.  Understanding the power/role of the mind and regulating internal thoughts is so important, especially in performance.”

As DCYOP continues to deepen its commitment to meeting our students where they are and nurturing the whole child, we hope to continue to offer more supplementary courses that will support each student’s growth, not just musically but mentally, physically and emotionally. Stay tuned for more announcements and events in 2023!

Winter 2022 Concerts are Coming!


It feels like the season just began, but our students are already reaching the home stretch of preparations for their winter concerts, which will take place in just a few short weeks. Here’s what you need to know:

Sunday, December 11th – 1:00 PM
Performances by Debut, Concertino, and Sinfonia orchestras

Sunday, December 11th – 4:30 PM
Performances by Premiere Winds, Wind Ensemble, and Young Artists Orchestra

Saturday, December 17th – 1:00 PM
Performances by Repertory Orchestra and Youth Philharmonic

Saturday, December 17th – 4:30 PM
Performances by Young Virtuosi and Youth Orchestra

All concerts will take place at the UDC Theater of the Arts, located near the intersection of Connecticut Ave NW and Windom Place NW on the UDC campus. Concerts are free and open to the public.




Get to Know DCYOP: Sydney Ebersohl

DCYOP has a proud tradition of welcoming alums back to the fold over the year: Principal Conductor, Kenneth Whitley, violin and viola teaching artist, Ken Giles, Program Director, Rashida Coleman, and Board President, Robert Blaine, are just a few of the former students and parents who have rejoined our organization in new roles.

This season is no different. One such alum who has returned to DCYOP is Sydney Ebersohl, who now works with many of our students as a violin teaching artist and played violin in YO from 2016-2017.

“Three years before I joined, I had not been a part of an orchestra program outside of school,” Sydney shares. “Being in an orchestra with a group of young musicians who are all passionate about music was something I had missed. During my time in the Youth Orchestra, we went on tour to Chile during the New Year, played under the baton of renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel, collaborated with amazing singers, and played in the Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center.”

Sydney didn’t just play at the Kennedy Center – she won the 2017 concerto competition and performed a movement of the Mendelssohn violin concerto with YO. “I was so humbled to be able to play a solo on such a historic stage, but all of the experiences and memories I had would not be the same were they not with the incredible friends I made in the program.”

Being part of an international tour is always a transformative experience for students, whether it’s creating new friendships and strengthening existing ones or directly shaping decisions they make about the trajectory of their young lives. “During the tour in Chile, I was receiving results from pre-screening auditions at various conservatories,” Sydney recalls. “I was deciding between attending one of these conservatories or a college. Being involved in a youth orchestra before deciding to go to CCM was pivotal in my final decision to pursue a conservatory instead of a ‘regular’ college.”

Sydney went on to study violin performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) with Timothy Lees, former concertmaster of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After graduating last April, she moved back to the D.C. area and shortly thereafter secured her position teaching with DCYOP. It’s a career step that carries deep meaning and purpose for Sydney.

“It is important to me to give back to the community what it gave me as a child. I was fortunate enough to have been given so many opportunities in my youth to grow my musical education. I decided to come back to DCYOP as a teacher so that I can help the next generation of musicians find their own passions and guide them towards their own musical and personal success. I want to be a part of an organization that gives every child who wants to learn a memorable experience with music, and DCYOP does just that.”