Tag Archives: Tacoma Youth Symphony

Music shines in Tacoma with ORS and TYSA

21 May


The Orchestral Recital Series, held May 19 to May 24, 2018 at the University of Puget Sound’s Schneebeck Concert Hall, is well worth attending to enjoy serious young musicians play repertoire that is pleasing to listen to as well as lush, full-toned with a great orchestra to accompany many young, talented musicians.  Saturday night’s concert, with Even Lambert as Conductor, was impressive with a great rendition of Liszt’s Concerto in E Flat Major, No. 1 by Nathan Zhao.  Many stand-out performances ensued, with Abigail Park playing a wonderful Greig Concerto as a finale.  If you like classical piano music and an interesting variety of music, plan to attend this series this week! The concert is free, but a donation is kindly requested.

Coming Up

What: Orchestral Recital Series – piano students of all ages perform live with an orchestra
Where: University of Puget Sound, Schneebeck Concert Hall, 1500 N. Warner Street in Tacoma
When: Continues May 21, 22, 23, & 24, 2018 @ 7:30 pm
Cost: Donations accepted at the door
More information: www.orstacoma.org


Tacoma Youth Symphony performs their season finale at the Rialto Theater.

Tacoma Youth Symphony once again showed their stars and stripes in their latest amazing performance at the Rialto Theater for their finale concert on Sunday, May 20, which featured Spanish composers, along with the famous and rousing march, Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever.  Dr. Paul-Elliot Cobbs conducted with great love and elicited a response from the orchestra that is performance at its best.  The orchestra has many talented young musicians that obviously love what they do, but it is their ability to play as one instrument that distinguishes them.  My favorite piece was the three-movement, The Three Cornered Hat, by Manuel de Falla, but Concerto de Aranjuez for Guitar by Joaquin Rodrigo was an obvious crowd-pleaser.  The guest guitarist, Michael Partington, was captivating and lyrical.  The excellence of the music and the performance left a smile on my face and a skip in my walk as I left the acoustically lovely Rialto Theater. Everything about this performance shined bright.


The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support Orchestral Recital Series of Tacoma through Arts Projects funding and Tacoma Youth Symphony Orchestra through the Arts Anchor Fund.


This review was written by Tacoma Arts Commission member Liesl Santkuyl. She works for the College Success Foundation and serves on the board of Latinx Unidos of the South Sound. Liesl has served on the Tacoma Arts Commission since 2017.

2016 AMOCAT Arts Award winners announced

19 Sep

The Tacoma Arts Commission has announced this year’s AMOCAT Arts Award winners: Metro Parks Tacoma (Arts Patron), Tacoma Youth Symphony Association (Community Outreach by an Organization), and Christopher Paul Jordan (Community Outreach by an Individual). The AMOCAT Arts Awards honor the people and organizations that positively impact the community with their passion, innovation, and commitment to the arts.

Play in Peace program at Wright Park on Friday May 20 2011 followed by a Peace March to McCarver Elem. School in Tacoma, Wa. Photo By Russ Carmack

Play in Peace program at Wright Park on Friday May 20 2011 followed by a Peace March to McCarver Elem. School. Photo By Russ Carmack

Arts Patron – Metro Parks Tacoma

This award goes to Metro Parks Tacoma for its ongoing commitment to serving and partnering with the greater Tacoma community.

From historic statues in Wright Park, and cultural pieces gifted from Tacoma’s Sister Cities that grace Point Defiance, to contemporary works that inspire visitors and beautify non-traditional mediums ranging from concrete walkways to conversation benches, amphitheater seats and community center exteriors, Tacoma’s parks provide an array of public art experiences throughout the community.

While performing and visual arts have long been part of the park system, opportunities for individuals to hone their personal skills through classes has expanded greatly since the inception of the Metro Arts program. Beyond individual exploration and development in the arts, the program provides access for the entire community to participate in free events and coordinates community projects to unite diverse audiences through shared art experiences.

Metro Parks’ contributions to our creative culture in Tacoma is evident in its commitment to making sure all forms of art can be experienced and enjoyed by our community. Their commitment to access is demonstrated by the Board’s recent adoption of a 1 percent for public art policy on all capital projects totaling more than $100,000, helping ensure even greater access to arts, as well as increasing opportunities for artists in our community.

Tacoma Youth Symphony string trio

Tacoma Youth Symphony string trio

Community Outreach by an Organization – Tacoma Youth Symphony Association

This award goes to Tacoma Youth Symphony Association for its deep and ongoing commitment to nurturing and serving youth across the region.

For over 50 years, the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association has provided nurturing, all-inclusive programs for young musicians. What started as one orchestra of less than 100 students in 1963, has grown into an internationally recognized youth orchestra organization comprised of five orchestras and over 400 students from all over Western Washington. The members of the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association range in age from seven to 21, and represent more than 100 schools in 20 communities. One of the largest youth orchestras in the United States, the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association also offers theory classes, a chamber music program, brass and woodwind ensembles, summer music camps, and harp and bass training programs.

Tacoma Youth Symphony Association is also committed to serving the surrounding community. Each year, the Tacoma Youth Symphony, the top orchestra, offers Discover Music Concerts for fourth graders from around the greater Tacoma area. These free concerts are designed to introduce school children to classical music and reach nearly 2,000 students. In addition, the Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra and Tacoma String Philharmonia do annual school tours, performing for underserved student bodies throughout the community. The Tacoma String Symphony performs each year in retirement communities and the Tacoma Junior Youth Symphony performs at the Victorian Country Christmas.

Committed to education, the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association education specialist and several Tacoma Youth Symphony Association conductors visit schools throughout the school year, where they coach and conduct in band and orchestra classrooms and provide musical demonstrations in classrooms. Tacoma Youth Symphony Association also offers a String Orchestra Festival each March for middle and junior high school string programs. The String Orchestra Festival draws approximately 1,200 students each year from schools all over the Puget Sound area for a day of performance in a non-competitive environment. Schools also have the opportunity to play together in a festival orchestra.

Christopher Paul Jordan in studio.

Christopher Paul Jordan in studio.

Community Outreach by an Individual – Christopher Paul Jordan

This award goes to Christopher Paul Jordan for his work in bridging audiences through the fusion of art and community organizing.

Jordan’s documentary, MEANWHILE: The Lasting Impact of Juvenile Records, was instrumental in provoking legislative change to state policies that previously allowed the selling of records of system-involved youth to private for-profit companies, often blocking access to housing, education and jobs for Washington’s most vulnerable youth.

Today, Jordan co-directs the grassroots youth organization Fab-5, which empowers young people as creative leaders who inspire change in their surroundings. He co-founded FABITAT which, for five years, has served as a drop-in interdisciplinary creative lab for youth year-round.

Jordan’s collaboration with Tacoma Action Collective through the #StopErasingBlackPeople  campaign built partnerships among Black artists, archivers, and HIV prevention organizers nationwide to give visibility to the impact of the U.S. AIDS Crisis on African Americans.

Jordan’s efforts this year include co-establishing Hue Collaborative, a cohort of 10 artists of color working in public art and currently completing an 1,800 square foot mural commission for the People’s Community Center; co-founding the Breaker Studio Gallery to highlight and support artists of color and community organizers in Tacoma with exhibition and convening space; and using social sculpture to advocate for increased affordable housing in the Hilltop neighborhood, where Jordan was born and is based.

Jordan is currently working on a statewide visioning project with the League of Education Voters, striving to push for progress in the dialogue about the future of education in Washington state by convening the voices of those who stand in the opportunity gap.

Awards Celebration

Awardees will be honored at the annual Tacoma Arts Month Opening Party on Sept. 29, from 6 – 9 p.m., at Asia Pacific Cultural Center (4851 South Tacoma Way). Deputy Mayor Ryan Mello and Council Members Keith Blocker and Marty Campbell will present the awards starting at 8 p.m.

In addition, there will be live entertainment at this event that includes contemporary dance by the Barefoot Collective, cultural dance performances by Asia Pacific Cultural Center, poetry by Tacoma Poet Laureate Cathy Nguyen, music by Champagne Sunday, cirque and aerial performances by Vuelta la Luna, and juggling by Saylor Purtle. Attendees can also experience an exhibit of Wayzgoose steamroller prints and a series of multimedia art exhibits by Matanofo Porter, Denis Maina, Saiyare Refaei, Jorge Garcia, and Kristin Giordano; film screenings by The Grand Cinema and Spaceworks Tacoma; a life-sized kaleidoscope installation by Tinkertopia; hands-on art making with Tacoma Art Museum; an interactive photo booth with Metro Parks Tacoma; and more. The event will include appetizers and a no-host bar.

This free public event is presented by the Tacoma Arts Commission and Spaceworks Tacoma and hosted by Asia Pacific Cultural Center. Event sponsors include Northwest Stage, Artist & Craftsman Supply and The Grand Cinema. Tacoma Arts Month premier sponsors are The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and Click! Cable TV. Media sponsors include Crosscut, KNKX, Northwest Public Radio, ParentMap, Sounds Fun Mom, South Sound magazine, Tacoma Weekly and Weekly Volcano. The social media sponsor is ARCADE.

Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra Spotlights Talented Young Musicians

25 Feb
Patrons gather after the concert to congratulate student soloist Anna Harris.

Patrons gather after the concert to congratulate Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra student soloist Anna Harris.

On February 21st, I had the pleasure of attending the Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra under the baton of Conductor Dale Johnson.  These exceptionally talented young musicians performed a very exciting concert.

Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra is one of six orchestras presented by the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association — making it one of the top youth orchestra associations in the country.  Because of their size, and more importantly, their dedication to excellence, TYSA provides young musicians the opportunity to play as part of a large orchestra starting at a young age.  The Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra is the penultimate orchestra in TYSA, with musicians ranging in age from late middle school to early high school.

Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra student soloist, Claire Turner.

Tacoma Young Artists Orchestra student soloist, Claire Turner.

The program I attended featured late 19th and early 20th century composers evoking a “Celebration of the New World.” The highlights of the evening were two pieces for solo violin and orchestra.  The first, Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs), Op. 20 by Pablo de Sarasate, featured an electrifying solo performance by high school junior Anna Harris.  In the second, soloist Claire Turner, also a junior in high school, skillfully played a delightful finale to Max Bruch’s Concerto No. 1 in g minor, Op. 26.  These gifted soloists were backed by approximately 75 of their peers with a full orchestra.  The music was breathtaking.

During intermission a patron remarked to me, “You can’t listen to this music and not have hope for the future.”

Tacoma is very fortunate to have the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association – an organization that inspires excellence and provides unique, high caliber opportunities for young musicians in our community. TYSA truly is a community treasure.


What: “Rhapsody in Blue” by Tacoma Youth Symphony (TYSA’s most senior level orchestra)
Where: Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th Street
When: Sunday, March 13:00 pm
Cost: Main floor tickets are $8.00 before the concert and $10.00 at the door.  There are 100 free student festival tickets available at the door. Balcony tickets are $16 – $19.
More information: www.tysamusic.org, (253) 627-2792

The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association through the Arts Anchor Fund.


This review was written by Tacoma Arts Commission member Scott Campbell. Scott is the Managing Director of Tacoma Youth Theatre. He is the winner of two Emmy Awards and has worked as a writer; television producer; media consultant; communications director, and theater director, actor, and designer. He has served on the Tacoma Arts Commission since 2014.

Start 2015 off on the right note

6 Jan
Tacoma Youth Symphony woodwind ensemble

Tacoma Youth Symphony woodwind ensemble

To ring in the new year, on January 13th, Classical Tuesdays in Old Town is delighted to present the Tacoma Youth Symphony chamber music ensembles!  These are the best of the best – of the hundreds of students in the Tacoma Youth Symphony orchestras, the top instrumentalists are showcased in small groups of woodwinds, brass and strings.

Tacoma Youth Symphony string ensemble

Tacoma Youth Symphony string ensemble

Join us for fabulous music-making and cocoa, coffee and cookies! Admission is free and all ages are welcome.
What: Classical Tuesdays in Old Town
Where: Slavonian Hall, 2306 N. 30th St., Old Town Tacoma
When: Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at 7 pm
Cost: Free

For more information visit classicaltuesdays.blogspot.com or call (253) 752-2135.

The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support Classical Tuesdays in Old Town through Arts Projects funding.

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