Santa Barbara Youth Symphony
The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is a 65-70 member youth orchestra comprised of students from the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, ranging from 12-18 years of age. Led by Music Director Andy Radford, this advanced ensemble is challenged with serious pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire. Each member is chosen by audition and no musician is refused entry because of finances. The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony rehearses weekly on Sunday evenings and presents a series of concerts throughout the school year.
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Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Music Director
Andy Radford, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Music Director, is the principal bassoonist with the Santa Barbara Symphony and has performed with many California ensembles including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pasadena Symphony and Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. He is professor of bassoon at UCSB and with his wife, Amy Hagen, is founder and music director of the Ojai Youth Symphony. Mr. Radford enjoys performing the full range of musical genres, appearing at the Monterey Jazz Festival and in concert with The Who, Moody Blues, Josh Groban and others. He has played in more than 700 performances of Phantom of the Opera and in productions of Carousel, Miss Saigon, Beauty and the Beast and La bohème. Also an active studio musician, Mr. Radford has performed on more than 200 film scores, including Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, George of the Jungle, The Family Stone, and Bambi 2.
History of Youth Symphony
Daniel Kepl started the original Youth Symphony in 1963 while he was a student in high school. The orchestra was jointly sponsored by the Santa Barbara Recreation Department and the Santa Barbara Youth Theater. Kepl was assisted by Stefan Krayk, concertmaster of the Santa Barbara Symphony, who acted as musical adviser. In 1968, the Youth Symphony was conducted by Terri Boyes and met weekly at Santa Barbara High School. It is unknown how many public performances were given. By 1972, the group met every two weeks to rehearse under the direction of Richard Amshutz of the Santa Barbara Symphony, but stopped giving concerts.
In the spring of 1974, a string orchestra put together by a local teacher, performed at the local Bach Festival. At that time, it was felt that enough interest and talent was available to form a performing group. With the encouragement of then Santa Barbara Symphony Music Director Ronald Ondrejka and General Manager Genevieve Fisher, this was done.
The first public performance of the present Santa Barbara Youth Symphony occurred in January 1975 under the direction of Dr. Jack Ullom of the Santa Barbara Symphony. For the first few years, only two concerts per season were given. A pops concert was added in the early 1980s, which eventually included a performance of “Young Dancers with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony” and gave both sets of performers an opportunity to collaborate with other performing artists. These continued until the early 1990s. At about the same time that the dance concerts ended, the pops concerts took a similar performing format to the Boston Pops, in that the audience sat at tables and ate pastries while the orchestra played. The concerts were then known as “Pops and Pastries.” In 1996, a Saturday evening performance was added to the traditional Sunday afternoon performance. A chamber orchestra was also started in 1996 and continued for three years. One performance was given each season. A free Children’s Concert prior to the pops concerts was added in 2002. Until 2011, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony was graciously managed by two volunteers: Jan Gilbert and Nancy Renshaw.
The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony now serves the region by providing musical enrichment to young people through the avenues of orchestral performance and instruction in our community’s schools. There are three components to the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Programs: the String Workshop, Junior Orchestra, and Youth Symphony.
The Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is an orchestra of 65-70 young musicians from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. These students, ages 12-18 from our regional schools, are challenged with serious pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire. Each Youth Symphony member is chosen by audition and no student is refused entry because of finances. Students rehearse weekly on Sunday evenings during the school year.
Three major concerts are given yearly. Each one features an Youth Symphony member, who by audition, performs as a concerto soloist. In addition, the Youth Symphony also gives a free Children’s Concert.
Most importantly, the Youth Symphony, through its performances and rehearsals, gives these young people a sense of accomplishment through steady musical and team effort. They learn that others rely on them to be at rehearsals, know their music, and to support one another. The Youth Symphony orchestra is a microcosm of real life, and as such, it prepares these young people well for their future roles in society.
Amy Williams, DMA
Director of Education & Community Engagement