Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra has new Clay satellite

Jesse Hollett
Posted 1/4/17

MIDDLEBURG – The Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and Wehner School of the Arts have collaborated to introduce a new JSYO Clay County satellite location.

The new location will give Clay …

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Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra has new Clay satellite


MIDDLEBURG – The Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra and Wehner School of the Arts have collaborated to introduce a new JSYO Clay County satellite location.

The new location will give Clay County student musicians the chance for earlier exposure to stringed instruments and the chance for supplemental education. The orchestra hopes the new location will make it easier for young musicians to perform and practice in their home county.

Rehearsals for the satellite orchestra begin Jan. 7. However, there’s still time to sign up to complete the season with the newly formed orchestra, comprised of 10 players.

New or more seasoned musicians between the ages of 7 and 21 can choose from two foundational string programs depending on their experience level.

The programs will be housed at the Middleburg supplementary arts school Wehner’s School of the Arts on College Drive. The new space will give students more opportunities to perform in and around their county by collaborating with neighboring musicians at JSYO’s main location at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s South Campus.

Students hoping to join strings classes can pick between violin, viola, cello and bass.

“We’re opening this new satellite to lure entry level musicians who might have never picked up an instrument, or some who maybe have some experience already,” said Kathryn Rudolph, Youth Orchestra Manager with JYSO. “This gives them a place right in their backyard, their neighborhood. It’s not as hard to get to as FSCJ South Campus, so we’re hoping to get more

students involved where that transportation might be a big barrier.”

Without an opportunity for early exposure to symphony orchestra, however, many students in Clay County begin to pick instruments in middle or high school due to the cost of travel to JYSO’s main location.

“We don’t have a symphony orchestra close enough for most our students to experience,” said Lauren Hoffman, president of Concert on the Green, the nonprofit that organizes the annual event of the same name that is dedicated to orchestral music. “You just learn so much when you get 100 or 120 musicians together all playing in synchronized form. I remember as a young child hearing the symphony orchestra for the first time and it was life changing. I was amazed at what was possible.”

Other barriers exist for entry to the program, however. The program costs $200. Concert on the Green’s main aim is to support students who cannot pay for their admission fees through scholarship opportunities. The Jacksonville Symphony Guild, the Jacksonville Symphony Association and various other benefactors also support new students.

“I was in the inaugural season of the JSYO in 1993,” said Kyle Wehner, co-owner and namesake for Wehner’s School of the Arts. “I’ve grown a lot since then of course and [JYSO] has grown leaps and bounds in the last 24 years since its inception.”

Wehner and his wife Holly, who co-founded the school in 1987, have long wanted to bring the orchestra to the school and fill the instructional void left from the absence of musical teaching in an orchestral setting.

Wehner said there is a major difference in private lessons over orchestral settings that is felt by the students.

Talks began last summer and the location is just starting to assemble enough members for performances. Currently, the school has seen roughly 10 members register. Wehner said he expects to see those numbers rise once word reaches throughout the community.

Associate Conductor in charge of Education and veteran violinist Naira Underwood-Cola said the core strength of the new satellite comes from its ability to connect budding musicians “who would not normally have the opportunity for exposure to the program” with the potential result of the students ascending into higher orchestra levels.

“You do see that light come on when they’re working as an ensemble as opposed to taking individual lessons,” Underwood-Cola said. “It gives them a sense of being a part of something larger…When you’re able to be in an ensemble and around kids who study the same art form and play and perform music together it’s a lot more encouraging and fun when you’re that age.”


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