They sound like seasoned musicians. Surprisingly though, the talented members of the Arlington Youth Symphony are only between the ages of 8 and 21. The symphony is in its fifth year of providing education and inspiration to young musicians through the pursuit of excellence in musical performance.
Dr. Clifton Evans, Director of Orchestras and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Texas-Arlington, serves as the artistic director for the program. Dr. Evans says the AYS has been a great way to build relationships within the community while allowing youth to further explore the world of music beyond the excellent teachings provided by school music programs.
The AYS is divided into three ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Junior String Orchestra. Open auditions are held for all instruments each May and August. Placement into the ensembles is based primarily on age and talent level.
Students come from a variety of backgrounds. “Some are home schooled, while others come from private schools, community colleges, and local school districts such as Mansfield, Grand Prairie, Lewisville, Fort Worth – but, most prevalently, Arlington,” says Dr. Evans. “One reason we started this back in 2012 is because the Mid-Cities area did not have anything like this for our youth. Fort Worth and Dallas both have a similar program, and we felt like we could build something right here,” he said. Currently, there are more than 100 students involved in the AYS.
“I am very pleased that my son can participate in a top-notch youth orchestra right here in the city of Arlington,” says Adrienne Thomas, mother of 10-year-old Jonathan, a budding violinist who has been in the Junior String Orchestra for over a year. “I encourage all Arlington residents to support the AYS in its mission to equip our students with a rewarding orchestra experience.”
AYS is funded through private contributions, local supporters and businesses, as well as student tuition. Scholarships are available for members who need financial assistance.
“It is a joy and a blessing to have the opportunity to share music with these young students,” says Dr. Evans. The final concert of the year is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, at UTA’s Irons Recital Hall. More information about the Arlington Youth Symphony can be found on their website, arlingtonyouthsymphony.org, or on the AYS Facebook page.