The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra Inc. provides opportunities to develop and nurture musical excellence by participating in a vibrant youth orchestra program. Through coaching, rehearsal, organizational involvement and performance opportunities, they offer youth, between the ages of 10 and 25, a welcoming, inclusive environment to develop their skills as musicians and to grow as community members. In the process lifelong friendships are formed. The SYO strives to positively impact the lives of participants and supporters while contributing to the variety of cultural experiences available to citizens in Saskatoon and beyond.
The Saskatoon Youth Orchestra has been offering young musicians the chance to have fun, make friends and improve their playing skills since 1958. Then known as the Saskatoon Junior Symphony, the ensemble came about thanks to funding from the Kiwanis Club and the hard work of passionate local orchestral music lovers.
The youth orchestra remains an important source of the city’s classical musicians. Many SYO alumni have gone on to share their talent as professional performers or educators. Many others have become leaders in the community. Among our alumni are Michael Swan, concertmaster of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Peter England, longtime music teacher and Saskatoon Summer Players producer, and Saskatoon city councillor Mairen Loewen. Our music directors have included founder Murray Adaskin, Dr. David Kaplan, Dwain Nelson and Jack Johnson. The modern SYO began in 1983 and was led for 25 years by Wayne Toews and George Charpentier. It also included a young strings ensemble and a double bass program.
In 2009, Richard Carnegie became music director of the SYO, joining Saskatoon Strings Music Director Bernadette Wilson in leading the next generation of classical musicians.
Over the years, the SYO has garnered numerous awards and has travelled to workshops across Canada. The SYO has consistently included works by Canadian composers in its repertoire and has also commissioned several works.
Some ensembles featuring former SYO members: Winnipeg Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Monterey Symphony (Mexico), Symphonic Orchestra of Galicia (Spain), Toronto Symphony, Victoria Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Trois-Rivieres Symphony, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the Saskatoon Philharmonic Orchestra, the Saskatoon Concert Band and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra!