DC Youth Orchestra’s small-budget victories

Posted on: June 1, 2009

In the Friday (5/29) edition of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program, Elizabeth Blair profiles the DC Youth Orchestra in Washington, D.C. “There are hundreds of youth orchestras around the U.S., but this one has found a way to be affordable, competitive and diverse—in every sense of the word.” Executive Director Ava Spece is interviewed about the program, “for which nearly 600 students gather every Saturday to take classes and practice with one of 12 different performing ensembles.” The segment explains that 85 percent of DCYO’s members, aged 4 to 19, come from minority groups, and that musicians from more affluent suburbs play alongside those receiving financial aid. “Most of the kids are from D.C., and for them, tuition comes to about $15 a week—for up to about seven hours of instruction. The DC Youth Orchestra attracts kids who want to be pushed. … Among the DCYO’s alums is Toyin Spellman-Diaz, oboist for the Grammy-winning quintet Imani Winds. ‘It was the first place where I was around my peers who really also wanted to be classical musicians,’ Spellman-Diaz says.”

Posted June 1, 2009

Photo courtesy of DC Youth Orchestra