GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Youth Orchestra performed at the Mansfield Theater on Sunday for the 2023 Fall Colors performance. Young musicians in Great Falls took the stage to show off their hard work and talent.
“It’s kind of like our… not final exam,” Kyara Nelsen, Youth Orchestra Conductor and Programs Manager said, “But final display of all the hard work that the kids have put in on all this music.”
The Youth Orchestra consists of 59 students, most of them in high school, with a few advanced middle schoolers passing the audition as well. After needing to step back and shrink the program during the pandemic, they have seen consistent growth in numbers as time goes on. Though it is only her second year as conductor, Nelsen has seen noticeable improvement throughout the orchestra.
“I love progress,” Nelsen said, “That’s always my number one thing. At every rehearsal I see the kids, what they’ve gone home and worked on, and come back to put together with their colleagues and me.”
Eleven pieces of music were performed at Fall Colors from multiple different groups. Along with the Youth Orchestra there was a junior percussion ensemble, the strings-only group for sixth through ninth graders “Sinfonia”, and the Youth Chamber Music Program, which plays music that only uses up to five performers.
“In the chamber music program, each musician is kind of a soloist,” Nelsen said, “But communicating with other ensemble members, so there’s no way… you’re not doubling anyone else's part, so you can’t really hide behind or lean on other people. You really have to take charge of your music.”
Fall Colors was a great showcase for the performers as well as the audience members, as the young students get more comfortable performing difficult music in front of an audience. Playing in a full orchestra is also a very different experience than a highschooler usually has in band class, opening doors for the young musicians.
“When I first started playing in a full orchestra with the wind in the back, it’s very different from what we do in school,” Ari Gray, a Clarinetist in the Youth Orchestra said, “So it makes it a lot more fun than just regular band class.”
If you are interested in applying to join the youth symphony, head to GFsymphony.org and head to the “Youth Orchestra” tab to learn more.