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Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra Tours Europe
First international tour in the ensemble's 26-year history
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


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Vivian Goodman
 
The young musicians rehearsing at Severance Hall before their send-off concert last weekend.
Courtesy of Vivian Goodman
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Seventy-five Clevelanders are embarking for Europe to play Brahms, Elgar, Dvorak and Wagner in some of its finest concert halls. It’s not the legendary Cleveland Orchestra, but it’s close. The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra rehearses and performs at Severance Hall and Cleveland Orchestra members teach, coach and lead the ensemble. WKSU’s Vivian Goodman reports this will be its first international tour.

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Only a few top-tier orchestras have youth orchestras. Cleveland’s was established 26 years ago and like its parent orchestra it has risen to prominence. It was one of only five chosen in 1998 for the National Youth Orchestra Festival at Interlochen. In 2001, it was invited to play Carnegie Hall, and in 2009, they played four concerts in Boston.

But other youth orchestras have toured Europe while the Cleveland group  is just getting around to it.

Kevin Ritenour plays percussion. “It’s definitely a momentous occasion.In COYO’s 26th year we’re finally going to Europe for the first time. And I think that’s amazing. This is personally my first trip to Europe so I’m very excited about it and I think it will be a great trip.”

Kevin is 18, and just out of Akron’s Archbishop Hoban High School. Since fifth grade, he’s had a private teacher. That’s a requirement for all members of the orchestra. They are also required to play in their school orchestras and rehearse for more than 4 hours every weekend at Severance Hall. 

This is Kevin’s third season with the youth orchestra,  but it’s long been part of the family.  His brother Sean is an alum, also plays percussion, and he’s going along to Europe as an extra player and chaperone. 

It’s really great. He’s eight years older than me so this is the first time we’ve been able to play together, so it’s going to be great.” 

He’s also  looking forward to seeing the Musikverein in Vienna “ The mecca of music around the world. And it’ll be great to see such an historic place.” 

COYO  won’t play the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic, but they’ll get a guided tour. The youth orchestra’s concert in Vienna Monday night will be at the Minoritenkirche, a 13th century Gothic cathedral.  Wednesday morning, they’ll visit Mozart’s birthplace, and that night in Salzburg they’ll perform at the Mozarteum.

Alumni of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra now play in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn, Germany, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera, and 17 other professional orchestras including Cleveland’s.

They  also include celebrated soloists like cellist Alicia Weilerstein, pianist Orion Weiss, and violinist Rebecca Fischer.

Not all the members of the orchestra are going on tour; only 75 out of the 99 young musicians are going.  Thirty received financial assistance to make the trip.

I’m Vivian Goodman, 89-7, WKSU

 


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