The Valley Youth Orchestra was formed in January of 1999 and is now celebrating 20 years of creating music with the young people of Montrose, Delta, Mesa and other surrounding counties. The group has multiple upcoming performances, including travel to Utah, and is currently preparing music for the events.
Members of the Valley Youth Orchestra (VYO) rehearsed at the Delta Middle School band room on Feb. 27, coming together after two weeks of individual practice.
“Each part helps make the complete whole of the music,” said VYO director Debra TenNapel. “To see how that blends from going home to practice and creating that orchestral sound, it’s just really exciting.”
For students, the VYO is a way for them to connect with each other through a creative outlet that they may not have the opportunity for anywhere else in the area. For community members, the performances are also an opportunity to participate and support local arts.
“There’s so many different opportunities to enjoy what is going on in our community. This is another way to do that, and it’s helping our young people who may not have an opportunity to play in any string groups,” TenNapel said, clarifying that the school district does not include strings performance in the music program. “[The schools] have fantastic programs, but without that, this is an opportunity for them to participate.”
Jane Schaefer, treasurer and board member of the VYO, has sons who both participated in the orchestra. “I think it’s important because in the early years, kids need a focus and they need to be able to find their talents,” said Schaefer. “It makes them feel valued and that they have something to give back at a young age.”
The VYO’s next performance will take place on March 14 at 5:30 p.m., located at the Delta Christian Church. There will be a silent auction portion, concert and dessert segment of the evening, and TenNapel said the event is a “really nice atmosphere” in addition to being a fundraiser for the group.
While the VYO and Valley Symphony Orchestra are two separate entities, the groups often collaborate with each other in addition to some VYO members that cross over to participate in both ensembles. On April 26 at the Montrose Pavilion, the two groups will come together for a “Salutes and Tributes” performance, joining different ages and experience levels. TenNapel said the collaboration helps foster both personal relationships and musicianship.
“[The Valley Symphony Orchestra] is very supportive of us in many ways. Every other year, we join them on stage and have opportunities to produce music together,” TenNapel said. “Music connects everyone, no matter what age or where you’re from. There’s something we can all enjoy from it. The young people bring a real delightfulness to those that are older. It’s just amazing to see what they can do, they’re so bright.”
Following the joint performance with the Valley Symphony Orchestra, the VYO will go “on the road” to Salt Lake City, Utah, where students will hear a performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. The VYO will also work with professors from the University of Utah's Department of Music to expand their performance knowledge. Proceeds from events as well as donations to a GoFundMe page set up by the organization will help allow students to go on the trip without paying out-of-pocket for travel.
Until the performances and trip, the VYO will continue practicing together and gaining not only musical knowledge, but life and social skills through participation in the group.
“Learning how to show expression and have proper technique, how to follow a director and multitask on many levels even at a young age... [Students] transform from the first rehearsal, with lots of work on their own, and what they produce really is shocking, it’s so good,” TenNapel said. “It’s a pleasure to be their director. They have the camaraderie of being together with other young people who have an appreciation of music.”
Schaefer agreed that while private music lessons are beneficial, participating in a group gives students a completely different experience.
“I have seen so much good come out of this orchestra, just attitudes and self esteem improvement that they wouldn’t have gotten just taking lessons,” Schaefer said. “My hope is that the orchestra will continue to flourish. These kids are very talented and committed, and the majority of them have stuck with the orchestra until they graduate from high school.”
People interested in either participating in or supporting the Valley Youth Orchestra can find more information about membership and performances at valleysymphony.net.