Summit County Youth Orchestra holds first concert in Dillon |

Summit County Youth Orchestra holds first concert in Dillon

The Summit County Youth Orchestra will play a fall concert on Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Dillon Community Church.
Heather Jarvis / |


What: Summit County Youth Orchestra fall concert

When: Sunday, Nov. 22, 6 p.m.

Where: Dillon Community Church, 371 La Bonte St., Dillon

Cost: Free; donations accepted

Ally Bierbaum, 16, decided to join Summit County Youth Orchestra this fall because she wanted to push herself musically.

“My favorite part is that I think everyone wants to be here … we are all more serious about our instruments and want to get better,” she said.

The youth orchestra is a new program for budding musicians developed by local community members. The group is currently comprised of around 20 students from mainly grades seven through 12, with a combination of string and brass players, along with a piano player. The youth orchestra will showcase their talents in a fall concert on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Dillon Community Church. This free concert is open to the public.

Several community members formed the youth orchestra as a supplemental music program for kids to do on top of the traditional school bands. Todd Lebow, board member and one of the founders along with wife Michaela, said many kids were traveling down to Denver to be part of orchestras there, and they wanted a local program. Michaela Lebow said they, by no means, wanted to take away from the school programs, but rather offer an additional opportunity for students to play.

Sam Hull, 17, said he joined because it was “another opportunity to play — I really enjoy music for sure.”

Another founder and board member, Janet Harriman, said the idea for a new group has been around for quite some time and finally came to fruition this fall.

“About 10 years ago, there was a string youth orchestra up here, but that lasted only a few years,” she said. “Where there are plenty of sports programs up here that compete with the Denver programs — High Country soccer, Summit Extreme — why not a youth orchestra? We hope to have more of a representation of surrounding mountain regions in the future.”

The youth orchestra holds auditions before the semester starts, and Todd Lebow said they hope to draw more kids next semester from both Summit and surrounding mountain communities like Eagle County.

The Summit County Youth Orchestra conductor is Chris Jusell, a violinist living in Denver. Jusell has been playing the violin for 20 years and plays with the Colorado Ballet, Opera Colorado, Central City Opera and is concertmaster with the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra. Harriman, who plays with Jusell in Opera Colorado and Central City Opera, recommended him for the position based on his energy and excitement for the music.

“He has done a tremendous job with the kids,” Harriman said. “I suggested him for this job after working with him a few times. It was very important to have the right person in place to direct the youth orchestra up here. He is an excellent musician, very active in performing around the state and he brings a lot of energy and knowledge to the rehearsals and the kids respond very well. You can have the best musician on the podium but if they can’t make that connection with the kids and make it fun then it’s not an inspiring environment to learn.”

Jusell said he has really enjoyed working with the kids, and they’ve been working hard.

“I think it’s been really successful, especially with limited rehearsal time, we’ve got a lot of stuff done,” he said.

The youth orchestra gives students an opportunity to continue their education and focus less on how to play an instrument and more about learning the styles of music and ensemble playing, in a group with a lot of different things going on.

Misha Martin-Williams, 13, said she found the program to be more challenging, and the general skill level to be higher in youth orchestra.

The group will be playing a combination of classical music and a pop song. One of the songs the orchestra will be playing is dedicated to Marco Tulio Reifsteck, a former classmate to some of the students who passed away unexpectedly in May. Michaela Lebow said the group wanted to play a song in his memory.

The second session of Summit County Youth Orchestra will begin in January. Jusell said auditions are open to students of any instrument.

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