GCYO has been impacting young musicians for over 40 years. Photo provided by GCYO.

Two of five Greenville County Youth Orchestras ensembles, the Young Artist Orchestra and The Philharmonic, will learn from and work alongside Greenville Symphony Orchestra members in “Shoulder to Shoulder.”

“They’re teaching you, but they’re also working with you the same way they would work with their standard partner in GSO,” YAO cellist Emily Pilgrim says.

With many GCYO students pursuing musical careers, the “Shoulder to Shoulder” concert allows them to see their potential futures.

“Seeing professionals there working with you, they made it so you know it’s possible, and it’s good inspiration,” YAO timpanist Will Harris says.

Working closely in final rehearsals, students receive one-on-one instruction from GSO members, going over passages and techniques together.

The result is an orchestral concert without distinction between student and professional. “I think [the audience] will be surprised to see what young musicians are capable of,” Harris says.

The weekly rehearsals also give students an inside look at a professional career. “I really like the longer rehearsals, which sounds really funny,” YAO violinist Hope Zinkann says. “Now that it’s three hours, you can experience what you’re going to experience later.”

GCYO executive director Holly Caprell says “Shoulder to Shoulder” is the highlight for many students. “It’s invaluable for the kids to have those professionals even take the time to share with them,” Caprell says.

GSO education director Braxton Ballew says “Shoulder to Shoulder” has become one of his favorite projects, too. 

“All musicians go through an intense process of discipline and preparation, expressing yourself while being part of something larger at the same time; there’s just nothing I’ve ever experienced like it,” Ballew says. “And getting to make that happen year after year for the musicians and the audiences of the future is what it’s all about.”

The audience should expect great music, Ballew says. “Standards are always high, and both GCYO and GSO musicians bring all the passion and skill they have, every time,” he says.

GCYO students are the next generation of Greenville musicians. GCYO alumna Emily Kirkpatrick is now a GCYO section coach, strings teacher at Stone Academy of Communication Arts, and professional violinist with several area symphonies, including GSO.

“Playing in GCYO exposed me to higher-level symphonic repertoire, allowed me to play in a full orchestra, and challenged my technique,” Kirkpatrick says. “I feel that GCYO brings different playing opportunities to the young musicians of Greenville.”

“Shoulder to Shoulder”

When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9
Where: Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre
Tickets: $10-$27
Info: http://gcyo.net/2018-season/

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