Annapolis Symphony launches free youth orchestra for 60th season

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Orion Youth Orchestra (Part 1)

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra will celebrate its 60th anniversary next season.

In September, it launches a free youth group called the Orion Youth Orchestra.

“The youth orchestra we are launching is really aimed at those kids who value their music lessons,” Concert Master Netanel Draiblate told WTOP. “They are more advanced players and want a slightly different experience. … It’s very rare that the music director of the parent orchestra works with students in the youth orchestra.”

Not only will kids work with expert Maestro José-Luis Novo, they will do it tuition free.

The $100 administrative fee will be waived for all applications received by this Friday.

Once you apply, you will then be able to submit your audition tape before July 15.

“We wanted to focus on the kids having a good experience, so we took the tuition out of it altogether,” Draiblate said. “We have other groups that can help [less experienced] students come up to Orion in time. We can train them and prepare them for Orion.”

That training happens in the Annapolis Symphony Academy, an after-school program founded in 2018. Classes are held at Temple Beth Shalom in Arnold, Maryland.

“It’s a very unique program,” Draiblate said. “If you go to a concert hall … you will not see a lot of musicians of color. We decided [to] give an opportunity to students underrepresented. For every non-minority student, we have a minority student. It’s a 50/50 split. … Having students from different backgrounds builds bridges.”

Such community outreach makes the Annapolis Symphony a fixture of local culture.

“It’s the largest professional orchestra in Anne Arundel County and one of the biggest  in Maryland,” Draiblate said. “We have partnerships with the U.S. Naval Academy; the Annapolis Opera. … We play at Maryland Hall, but we also do concerts at Strathmore.”

The orchestra is comprised of 50 to 60 musicians, depending on the specific concert.

“Our musicians come from all walks of life,” Draiblate said. “They’re music teachers. … We have teachers who are military personnel, some of our musicians teach in the D.C. area, for example, we have someone teaching at the Duke Ellington School.”

What can we expect from the upcoming 60th anniversary season of concerts?

“We are just about to finalize our season,” Draiblate said. “We have some potentially big names coming to perform with us. It’s in the last little portion of organizing and signing contracts, so all of the announcements for our 60th season will be coming up very soon. I encourage the listeners to check into the website.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Orion Youth Orchestra (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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