KVYSO a hidden gem in central Maine

Daniel Keller, who is co-conductor of the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra and on staff at the Southern Maine String Camp conducts the orchestra rehearsal. (photo courtesy of Stephanie Taylor)

by Eric W. Austin

“I think of it as a hidden gem in central Maine,” says board president Stephanie Taylor, about the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras (KVYSO), an independent nonprofit formed in 2018 as an outgrowth of the Pineland Suzuki School of music, in Manchester. The initiative was an effort to bring the string musicians of the Suzuki School together with local students of wind, brass and percussion instruments for a full orchestral experience.

Stephanie Taylor

Taylor, a professor of Computer Science, at Colby College, in Waterville, and mother to one former and one current student member of the orchestra, serves as both the president of the board and the group’s webmaster.

“I’m the president of the board,” she says, “which basically just means I’m an involved parent.”

The orchestra consists of two ensembles, the Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestra for intermediate students, and the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony for advanced students. Middle school and high school students are encouraged to audition, with placement determined by skill level. KVYSO is especially looking for percussion, brass, and wind instrumentalists.

The group works hard to avoid conflicts with other activities in which the students may be involved, such as sports or other musical groups. They hold two ten-week seasons each year, culminating with a public concert. Their off-season is January and February, when the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra is active, so that students can participate in both groups if they wish. Frequently, KVYSO schedules trips such as the one planned for New York City in April.

Tuition for participation in the Intermediate Orchestra is $100 per semester, and $165 per semester for the Advanced Orchestra. Financial aid is also available for parents who wish to apply.

The Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestras are currently holding auditions for their spring season, and holds rolling auditions throughout the year. Students can schedule an audition appointment by filling out the form on their website and emailing it to Betsy Kobayashi, Education Director, at info@kvyso.org.

The orchestras are conducted by Jinwook Park, the orchestra conductor at Colby College, and Daniel Keller, who is co-conductor of the Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra and on staff at the Southern Maine String Camp. Keller is an inductee of both the Maine Music Education Association Hall of Fame and the National Music Hall of Fame for Music Educators. Of Jinwook Park, Taylor says, “He is incredible musically and the students absolutely love him. He’s a very nice guy that pushes them to do really amazing stuff.”

The Kennebec Valley Youth Orchestra’s next concert is scheduled for Friday, May 5, at 6:30 p.m., with the location to be determined. Watch The Town Line’s Calendar of Events for updates or visit the Schedule and Concert Information page on their website at kvyso.org.


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