St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, led by YO Director and SLSO Resident Conductor Gemma New, begins 49th season

In addition to three concerts each season at Powell Hall, YO members receive regular coaching from St. Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians, participate in peer-to-peer mentoring program with younger music students in the St. Louis area

As the only participating American orchestra, SLSO continues partnership with American Voices, which supports musicians in nations emerging from conflict, and welcomes two international students from the Kurdistan region of Iraq

To download this release, click here.

(October 25, 2018, St. Louis, MO) – The St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra kicks off its 49th season this November, continuing a tradition of nurturing talented young musicians from the St. Louis region – and this year, from as far away as the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Under the direction of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Resident Conductor Gemma New, who makes her New York Philharmonic debut at Lincoln Center next month, the YO will present three free concerts of expert-level repertoire beginning on November 18.

This year, the YO also welcomes two international students from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Diyar Jamal, a 20-year-old double bassist from Erbil, and Lawan Taha Hama Ali, a 22-year-old violinist from Suleymaniyah, joined the YO through a collaboration with American Voices and Saint Louis University. Serving as a cultural bridge, American Voices supports musicians in nations emerging from conflict. As the only American partner city for this unique partnership, the SLSO began hosting international students in 2009 through its Music Without Boundaries program. The SLSO, American Voices, and Saint Louis University partnered to provide housing for Jamal and Ali as they study in the United States and perform with the SLSYO. They are the first international students to join the YO since the 2015/2016 season.

John Ferguson, Executive Director and Founder of American Voices, said, "American Voices is extremely honored to offer a scholarship opportunity for Diyar and Lawan in conjunction with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Saint Louis University. This significant award helps boost their confidence and provides them inspiration and education to realize their dreams in developing innovative music. By alleviating the financial burdens needed to compete at an international level, students are able to focus on their studies, and create positive impacts not only for themselves, but for society at large. We appreciate the long-standing friendship with SLSO and SLU in helping students pursue their dreams."

In addition to three concerts each season, the YO offers its student musicians a well-rounded musical experience to develop participants into lifelong musicians. Youth musicians receive regular coaching and mentoring from the world-class musicians of the SLSO. Select YO members also participate in a peer-to-peer mentoring program, which pairs them with younger music students in the St. Louis area.

Maureen Byrne, SLSO Senior Director, Education and Community Partnerships, said, "One particular aspect of the YO that is highly valued by YO musicians is the amount of time they get to spend learning from some of the top professional orchestral musicians in the country. The YO musicians get to have regular coaching sessions with SLSO musicians, and this not only helps them refine their playing and musicianship skills, but it creates an excellent mentorship environment that makes the YO a unique music education opportunity."

Formed in 1970 under SLSO Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin, the YO is a high-level ensemble for musically-accomplished students. Approximately 100 musicians ages 12 to 22 from dozens of schools in the bi-state region form the YO, with some traveling more than 100 miles for weekly rehearsals throughout the year. Membership to the YO is by audition only. Since its inception, more than 2,100 student musicians have played in the ensemble. Six former YO members hold positions in the SLSO. Planning is under way to celebrate the YO's 50th anniversary season in 2020.

The 49th season of the YO opens with Dvořák's Carnival Overture, which tells the story of the jubilance of the human spirit. The November 18 program also includes Sibelius' ode to his homeland in Finlandia and closes with Brahms' Symphony No. 1.

The second YO concert, scheduled for 1:00pm, Saturday, March 23, 2019, opens with Abigail Richardson-Schulte's GO! and Smetana's tone poem Die Moldau. Verdi's La forza del destino (The force of destiny) Overture and Tchaikovsky's triumphant Symphony No. 5 round out the program.

St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra Concert #1
Sunday, November 18, 2018, 3:00pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Gemma New, conductor

DVOŘÁK Carnival Overture
SIBELIUS Finlandia
BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor

St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra Concert #2
Saturday, March 23, 2019, 1:00pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Gemma New, conductor

SMETANA Die Moldau
VERDI La forza del destino (The force of destiny) Overture
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra Concert #3*
Sunday, May 26, 2019, 3:00pm
Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO

Gemma New, conductor

*Repertoire will be announced at a later date. Dates are subject to change.

Tickets are free with a $1 service fee and can be reserved by visiting or by calling the Box Office at 314-534-1700.

St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra concerts are sponsored in part by Kathleen Clucas, Whole Foods Market, The G.A. Jr. & Kathryn M. Buder Charitable Foundation and ESCO Technologies Foundation.

About Gemma New, Resident Conductor and Director of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra
Sought after for her insightful interpretations and dynamic presence, New Zealand-born conductor Gemma New is currently Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, Canada and Resident Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

In the 2018-19 Season, New enjoys guest engagements with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, CMI Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio, and Santa Fe Pro Musica, as well as the Philharmonic Orchestras of Calgary, Louisiana and Rochester, the Symphony Orchestras of Charlotte, Detroit, Drummondville, Jacksonville, San Diego, Toronto, Tucson, and Winnipeg, the Florida Orchestra and the Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester in Germany.

Ms. New is a Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 2018. Previously, she has been Dudamel Conducting Fellow at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a Conducting Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival, an Ansbacher Fellow at the Salzburger Festspiele, and a Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Fellow with the Leipziger Symphonieorchester.

About the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
Celebrated as one of today's most exciting and enduring orchestras, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra is the second-oldest orchestra in the country, marking its 139th year with the 2018/2019 season. Widely considered one of the world's finest, the SLSO maintains its commitment to artistic excellence, educational impact, and community connections – all in service to its mission of enriching lives through the power of music.

In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, which has been the permanent home of the SLSO for 50 years, the orchestra is an integral part of the diverse and vibrant St. Louis community, presenting free education programs and performances throughout the region each year. It presents St. Louis Symphony Live at the Pulitzer, a four-program series at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. The SLSO also serves as the resident orchestra for Opera Theatre Saint Louis, with this season marking the 42nd year of their partnership.

The Grammy Award–winning SLSO's impact beyond the St. Louis region is realized through weekly Saturday night concert broadcasts on St. Louis Public Radio, acclaimed recordings, and regular touring activity. A sought-after artistic partner by preeminent musicians and composers from across the globe, as well as by local and national organizations, the SLSO enjoys a long history of robust and enduring artistic collaborations that have developed and deepened over the years.

Today, the SLSO builds on the institution's current momentum on all fronts, including artistic, financial, audience growth, and community impact, and looks toward the future with Stéphane Denève. Denève, who has been a frequent guest conductor with the orchestra since 2003, begins his tenure as Music Director with the 19/20 season, following this season as Music Director Designate. For more information, visit

#   #   #