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Mission Statement of the DC Youth Orchestra Program: The mission of the DC Youth Orchestra Program is to provide a center for affordable, music instruction and performance opportunities for young people ages 4 1/2-19; to develop a youth orchestra capable of competing successfully at the national and international levels; and to instill in our students the discipline and focus necessary to succeed on an academic as well as a musical plane.
History of the DC Youth Orchestra Program: Since 1960 the DC Youth Orchestra has served the Washington DC community by providing music education and performance opportunities to young people regardless of previous skill or experience. Indeed, the program's inclusivity is what sets it apart from many other youth music organizations. No auditions are required to join - just the desire to learn.
Started with only 60 students, the program has grown to where it now takes in some 700 young people each year. During its history it has trained tens of thousands of students. Fees are kept low to enable students from every income level to participate. Financial aid assistance is available to many.
Over 90 percent of the graduates from the program attend college, many with scholarships to some of the finest universities in the country. More than 1,500 alumni have performed in professional and community orchestras across the U.S., including five in the National Symphony Orchestra here in Washington. Even those who have not pursued a musical profession have gone on to distinguished careers in business, law, education, government, and science - with music continuing to enrich their lives.
The organization's vision is a simple one: every child has a right to music. Professional music teachers instruct the children in classical music methods over two semesters and one summer session each year, and every player is challenged to advance by playing before a jury for the next, more-demanding level. As skills improve, there are opportunities to join one of the six orchestras, three wind ensembles, two chamber orchestras, and/or multiple chamber groups, with the prestigious DC Youth Orchestra at the top of the musical ladder.
The program's success has been recognized by the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services when it received one of the 11 coveted "Coming Up Taller Awards" for out-of-school arts and humanities programs in 2002. The U. S. Department of Education and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have also cited the DCYOP for its efforts. Leonard Slatkin has often spoken out on behalf of the program, and Joseph McLellan, the former music critic of the Washington Post, once wrote, "Other music groups may be more prestigious, and some are certainly more affluent, but no musical institution in the District of Columbia is more important that the DC Youth Orchestra."
DC Youth Orchestra Program is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Approximately 65% of the student participants are residents of the District of Columbia. The remaining percentage comes from the greater DC Metropolitan area, Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia. Well over 90% of the young artists who participate in the program go on to attend college. Testimony to the success of the program is the success of the young artists, whether as professional musicians or as other dedicated professional individuals positively impacted by their experiences in the DC Youth Orchestra Program.
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