Did you Know?
America’s First Established Youth Orchestra
In 1924, a group of visionary citizens established the Portland Junior Symphony Association(later renamed the Portland Youth Philharmonic Association or PYP for short). Building on the pioneering work of Mary V. Dodge, whose Irvington School Orchestra was the nucleus of the first Junior Symphony, the Association engaged Russian émigré Jacques Gershkovitch as conductor. PYP is the oldest youth orchestra in the United States. The structure and standards that it established for training young musicians in the 1920s became the prototype for youth orchestras across the country.
It is the purpose of the Portland Youth Philharmonic Association to maintain the finest possible youth orchestras in order to inspire and educate young people through performing symphonic music and to provide a cultural asset for the community.
The Portland Youth Philharmonic Association supports two full symphony orchestras, a chamber orchestra, a wind ensemble, and one string orchestra. Each group is made up of outstanding young musicians chosen by open auditions each spring and early fall who are seated solely according to ability. They range in age from 7 to 23, come from communities across the region, and represent over 100 different schools. Membership demands their commitment to an intensive schedule of rehearsals and the performance of a repertoire that closely parallels that of major professional orchestras.
Membership in PYP is reserved for outstanding players whose technical level is highly advanced, who show strong musicality and musicianship, and who are capable of the discipline necessary to perform in one of this country’s premier youth orchestras. The Philharmonic Orchestra presents four season concerts, Children’s Concerts, and Community Concerts. Musicians also give private lessons to young instrumentalists as part of a nationally recognized Peer Mentor Program. PYP has taken eight national and international concert tours—to Europe, Canada, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, to the East Coast and Carnegie Hall, and most recently, in 2014, to the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago.