The Memphis Youth Symphony was founded in 1966 by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, becoming an independent program in 2006. Today, nearly 300 students from all over the city perform in MYS' four orchestras: the Youth String Ensemble; the Youth String Sinfonia; the Youth String Orchestra; and the Youth Symphony.
According to executive director Kathleen Powell, only 10 percent of the program's graduates go on to play professionally. That said, all are invited back for this Saturday's "A Musical Homecoming," an MYS reunion and music-filled fund-raiser.
The evening will include a reception for MYS alums and current musicians, speakers, and solo and group performances, followed by a concert by the Memphis Youth Symphony Alumni Orchestra. The Alumni Orchestra's 65 members, led by former MYS conductor Vincent Danner, will perform numbers they remember well, such as Morton Gould's American Salute.
Alisa Horn, MYS member from 1993 to 2000 and now a freelance cellist in New York City, is one of A Musical Homecoming's organizers. She's been working on the event for months and has contacted most of MYS alums through Facebook. She says that the majority of those who are coming still perform, and those who don't have opted to speak at the event. For Horn, the MYS was her weekly music outlet. She got to meet other kids and develop her competitive side through the program's auditions, while building an appreciation for orchestral music. "I love to play," she says, "and it taught me to play well with others."
"A Musical Homecoming," Saturday, June 13th, 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Go to memphisyouthsymphonyprogram.org or call 327-5078 for more info.