American Youth Symphony’s Spring Concert Celebrates 58 Years of Performance

Sunday’s Free Concert Concludes the 2022-34 Season

By Susan Payne

Much is in store for the American Youth Symphony as the organization celebrates 58 years of bringing the powerful experience of exceptional orchestral performance to the community through free and low-cost concerts. 

On Sunday, AYS is hosting a Spring Concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall, beginning with Samuel Barber’s Overture to the School for Scandal, followed by Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations and closing with two pieces by Richard Strauss: Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils and Ein Heldenleben. 

Founded in 1964 by world-renowned conductor Mehi Mehta, AYS provides landmark fellowship to virtuosic young adults and exceptional, innovative, and accessible concerts to the Los Angeles community. For 58 years, AYS has created ensembles of extraordinarily talented young adults who are shaping the future of classical music. 

“This tuition-free and access-driven business model is not possible without the dedication and loyalty of AYS donors, supporters, and members. Each and every year–including our 58th season–is a milestone celebration for everyone who has played a part in ensuring our musicians have access to world-class training and our audiences have access to AYS performances, free from any financial burden,” said Isabel Thiroux, interim executive director of AYS. 

Known as a “gateway” orchestra for aspiring musicians, Thiroux said the organization has trained over 3,000 musicians who have joined the finest orchestras, enjoy successful careers in recording, and are on faculties of prestigious schools. 

“AYS alums have joined the finest orchestras in the nation, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera, to name a few.  The three leading orchestras in Los Angeles – The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and LA Opera – currently employ 23 AYS graduates,” said Thiroux. 

Sunday’s Spring Concert starts at 4 p.m., directed by Carlos Izcaray, who is described by the international press as inspiring, spirited, and conducting with nuanced sensitivity. Izcaray has conducted ensembles across five continents and is firmly established as one of the most highly regarded conductors of his generation. 

After one of Izcaray’s many ensembles, The St. Louis Dispatch wrote, “Conductor Carlos Izcaray made an outstanding, memorable debut, leading with idiomatic fire and elan; he’s a real find.”

Although the Spring Concert on April 23 will conclude the 2022-23 season, more is to come this summer as AYS steps into the 2023-24 season. Along with concert series and performances, AYS will be collaborating with Inner City Arts to provide a chamber concert in June, featuring AYS’s strong musicians and community education at the Rosenthal Theater. 

“Inner City Arts offers a safe, creative space in Los Angeles where more than 200,000 children have been invited to create and explore,” said Thiroux. “We’re excited about this collaboration.”

To support AYS and its mission to inspire the future of classical musicals, consider the following options:

  • Become an AYS member: Memberships are a tax-deductible donation of $65 or more per year and proceeds support musicians, mission and programs, and more. 
  • Become an AYS champion: Championship starts at $1,500 a year and offers sponsorship toward an AYS musician, concert, or guest artist to be featured at one of the concerts. Championship members also have an opportunity to name a chair in the orchestra or be recognized as a concert sponsor. 
  • Attend an event: From single tickets to hosting tables or corporate sponsorship packages, there are many ways to experience an AYS event while also supporting the organization. As most tickets are “pay-what-you-can,” AYS ensures cost is not a barrier to access. 
  • Volunteer with AYS: Concerts and events are open to volunteers who are rewarded with great seats, even at sold-out performances. Email katie.speer@asymphony.org if you’d like to get involved. 

Tickets for the upcoming Spring Concert are free and can be found here. Later this summer, more events and information on the 2023-24 will be released.

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