Students and Professionals: Side-by-Side
by Kayla Moore
The Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestras (CSYO) program is an integral part of the city’s musical culture and a premier ensemble of talented high school-aged orchestral musicians. The CSYO Philharmonic Orchestra, which rehearses weekly, is filled to the brim students who come together from across the Tristate with a passion for music and a commitment to the highest caliber of musical performance and collaboration. Part of the CSYO experience is collaboration with the people they aspire to be like—the highly skilled professional musicians of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
Each year since 1978, the Orchestra has presented a performance featuring the CSYO and CSO musicians together on one stage. This concert is called the CSO/CSYO Side-by-Side and features highly difficult repertoire from the core of the orchestral canon. This year will highlight French composers Debussy, Borne and Berlioz. Instructional Programs Manager for the CSO Carol Dary Dunevant calls the program a “musical greeting to Music Director Louis Langrée.” She is especially excited about the premiere performance in the newly renovated Music Hall, “because of the magic of performing on the stage and being a part of the history.”
The Side-by-Side is such a significant program for the CSO and artistic community in Cincinnati because it places high school-aged musicians next to professional musicians. This collaborative effort has the potential to inspire performers and audience members in various ways, whether it be a spark of creativity and passion or an impulse to incorporate classical music into daily life.
“You just never know when a child, or person of any age, may be touched by something they hear. I once saw a girl be moved to tears because she thought the piece being played was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard,” says Dunevant. The pure excitement and inspiration from the musicianship and artistry on the stage have the potential to change young people’s lives, and this is just one of many reasons this performance is so vital to Cincinnati’s arts community.
This year’s conductor for the program, CSO Assistant Conductor Gene Chang, is particularly passionate about this program because of the possibility of mentorship. “For the students, the Side-by-Side is an incredible opportunity to play alongside musicians from one of the world’s greatest orchestras, which is not only a great learning experience but a real thrill.”
One thing about this concert is the give and take of knowledge and engagement between all musicians— professional and student. Chang says, “It’s wonderful to see just how involved and invested the CSO musicians are in this concert. They are teaching by example, giving the students a taste of how a professional orchestra plays together, engaging with their student stand partners, giving advice, providing students with pointers on specific repertoire, and providing tremendous mentorship.”
Sharing musical experiences and passion for thecraft of orchestral performance is essential to musicians' development, and the CSO's effort to create an environment where professionals and students can do so on stage is extraordinary. Student soloist for this year's Side-by-Side, flutist Lindsey Wong, put it best when she said, “As a young artist, this program acts as the stepping stone to helping myself, and other students, become orchestral musicians. Being given the opportunity to perform at Music Hall alongside CSO musicians is such an incredible experience—meeting the artists withing the organization and getting a feel for playing with a professional orchestra is an inspiring and precious moment.”