The Oregon Coast Youth Symphony Festival is an annual four-day event in April for six (6) high school orchestras. Schools with high percentage of students qualifying for free/reduced lunch are given priority admission. They join together for the 4-day Festival to learn in small innovative group workshops, play music together, bond with peers in their own and other orchestras, and perform as their school orchestra and also together as the Festival Orchestra for a free public concert as part of the Festival’s finale. The Festival includes a performance by a university orchestra. Professional music directors and conductors are the instructors. One of the primary purposes of the Festival is to bring students together to play music without putting any kind of financial barriers or obstacles in their way. Schools participate completely free of charge.
The 4-day April Festival begins on Thursday evening when the school arrive for a pizza dinner and then assemble to create the Festival orchestra and rehearse the two pieces they will perform as part of the public concert as the Festival’s finale.
Friday, the students break into the various workshops and clinics which last approximately 90 minutes. Workshops continue in the afternoon with three of the high school orchestras performing Friday evening along with a university orchestra.
Saturday, is additional workshops and the second rehearsal of the combined Festival orchestra. Saturday evening three high school orchestras perform and the combined Festival orchestra performs as the Festival’s finale. All Festival events and concerts are free and open to the public with a donation requested at the door.
Sunday morning, the students receive free admission to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. In exchange for the free student admission, small ensembles from the high school orchestras perform short programs throughout the Aquarium grounds.
While many fine youth orchestras exist in Oregon as stand-alone, non-profit organizations, the Festival board is specifically interested in supporting and promoting orchestra programs within Oregon’s public schools.
As students expand their skills in reading music, and hone their technical abilities, moving on to play with an ensemble helps these students develop skills in teamwork, personal goal-setting, responsibility to themselves and others, and a sense of pride in their group, school, and community.
The Festival has established and is building a high school orchestra community based in Newport, centered on young musicians, artistic exploration and collaborative performance that lead to recognition of the power of music throughout one’s life. While there are regional and state orchestra competitions, the Festival’s non-competitive activities for high school orchestras, small ensembles, and emerging high school composers is unique.
The Festival’s music director and lead clinician is Adam Flatt. He is Music Director of the Newport Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Ballet, and the University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa Symphony. He is also guest conductor for orchestras, ballet and opera companies all over the country. Each year an acclaimed conductor joins the Festival staff as guest clinician.
Watch a performance excerpt from the 2018 festival here. Adam Flatt, Music Director and lead clinician, conducts the Festival orchestra (students from Clackamas High School, McKay High School, McNary High School, Pendleton High School, and Reynolds High School) in the Festival’s finale: Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso.
Watch performance excerpts from the 2019 festival here. In the first, Helen Cha-Pyo, guest clinician, conducts the Festival orchestra (student musicians of Grants Pass High School, N. Salem High School, Pendleton High School, Tigard High School, and West Linn High School) in the Festival’s finale: Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso. In the second (about 3:35 into the video), Adam Flatt, Music Director and lead clinician, conducts the Festival orchestra in the Festival’s finale: Soon Hee Newbold’s Iditarod.
You can also view the printed programs from each of the previous year’s festivals here:
The 2017 event, held April 27-30 at the Newport Performing Arts Center and Newport Middle School, hosted students from Pendleton, McKay, West Linn, North Salem, and North Medford high schools, as well as the Newport Youth Symphony of the Oregon Coast, with special guests the University of Oregon Orchestra. Conductor Adam Flatt and guest clinician Dr. Dan Allcott worked with the students. View program.
The 2018 event, held April 19-22 at venues including the Newport Performing Arts Center, Newport Church of the Nazarene, Newport Middle School, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, hosted students from Pendleton, Clackamas, McKay, Reynolds, and McNary high schools as well as the Newport Youth Symphony of the Oregon Coast, with special guests the Oregon State University Chamber Strings Ensemble. Conductor Adam Flatt and guest clinician Dr. Blake Richardson worked with the students. View program.
The 2019 event, held April 25-28 at venues including the Newport Performing Arts Center, Newport Church of the Nazarene, Newport Middle School, Sam Case Elementary School and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, hosted students from Tigard, North Salem, Grants Pass, West Linn, and Pendleton high schools, with special guests the Willamette University Chamber Orchestra. Conductor Adam Flatt and guest clinician Helen Cha-Pyo worked with the students. View program.