Partial Transcript: K: Okay, great, so first, to start, could you please introduce yourself and just explain what you do as the Youth Orchestra Manager of the Richmond Symphony?
H: Absolutely, so um my name is Corinne Horvath, and um I have a pretty extensive music background, um I went to school for um, performance, music performance, I’m a clarinetist for my undergraduate degree, and then I also did my master’s degree in clarinet performance, and then I have a doctorate in arts administration and clarinet performance! So lots of music, and then I moved to, after I graduated, about a year ago I moved to Richmond, uh, with my now husband, and um, I knew that I wanted to be in a non-profit arts administration environment, and so I applied to the Symphony and um was fortunate enough to be offered the job. Um and so my main position, as Youth Orchestra manager is really, kind of just that, um, we have uh 5 youth ensembles, actually we used to have 4, and we now recently added a 5th one the wind ensemble. And so we have them at all different levels, um the Sinfonietta strings is our youngest ensemble, and um, well I shouldn’t say youngest, because we have students from elementary school all the way through high school in that ensemble. But it’s a non-audition ensemble, and students need to be playing for at least one year. So they um come in, non-audition, just welcome to come and play. Um and then we have Camerata strings, which is the next level up, and that’s our first non-audition strings-only ensemble. Sinfonietta’s a strings-only, and then Camerata is the second level, it’s intermediate, and that is audition-based, and so auditions happen in May and June every spring, um into for new students to enter the program and then current students to move up into another ensemble. And then we have um Youth Concert Orchestra which is our first full um orchestra, including winds brass and percussion. And then that is also audition-based. And then we have RSYO which stands for the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, and that’s our um… advanced level, uh full orchestra, a lot of the students in that ensemble are really really serious about music, considering going to school for music, have a lot of, um, opportunities to work with our RSO musicians. Um and so the wind ensemble came into play because we um you know had noticed that we had all these opportunities for our string players to start really young, but winds brass and percussion generally start a little bit later than string players. Um and so we noticed that we didn’t have an entry point for our winds brass and percussionists as young or as early as we did for our string students. And so we decided to create the wind ensemble which is uh a no-string ensemble. Um and so we just recently started that this year, so it’s growing, and we hope to continue to grow it as we move on. Um but that’s our 5, 5 ensembles and um, I manage them, um and we have rehearsals every Tuesday, um at Martin Luther King Jr. middle, um and that’s where our, um 4 of our youngest ensembles are, and then the older orchestra rehearses here, at our offices. Um and so every Tuesday they rehearse from 4:45 until, it depends um on the ensemble, the time they end, so Sinfonietta since it’s um more of a beginner ensemble they end at 6:15, and then the next 6:30 and the next 6:45, so it’s kind of on a little bit of a rotation. And so we have conductors that are (?) she conducts our Sinfonietta and then we have conductors that teach in various school districts that come in on Tuesdays and work with our students. So that’s like the main part of my job!
K: Okay, yeah, I mean, you definitely gave me a very broad overview, so thank you. Um I guess just to dive right in, um, you mentioned before that you’ve been working here for a year, um, so, what have you seen is like the purpose of the Youth Orchestra Program that um, like why did the Richmond Symphony form it in the first place?
H: So it’s been around for quite a while, um and I think that, um, its purpose is really to serve youth in our area. Um and one of the things that I really love about the program is that it brings, um, students from all walks of life and from all areas of the state actually together. We have students I believe that travel at least an hour to an hour and a half, some of them, to come to Youth Orchestra, and so we have students from all different school districts who you know at the beginning of the year may have never met each other before, and maybe only see each other on Tuesdays but it’s really great to see the students start the beginning of the season, and then come, you know have a culminating concert as the one that’s happening this weekend, and see how the relationships grow and how the music grows and provide a really safe space for students who just love music. And so that’s, I would say that’s the most exciting thing about the program, is that we offer all of these opportunities um… both in and outside of the Youth Orchestra Program to help our students grow and to connect them with music.
K: Um, so how much do you interact with the students, because I know you’re managing all of them, so do you like attend their rehearsals, I’m-?
H: Yeah, so most of my job um is at my desk in my office, it is a lot of email communication, um we have about 160 students in the program, and so obviously some of them are siblings, but you know that gives me about, roughly like 130 families or so to communicate with, and so, I’m constantly sending email reminders about auditions and performance opportunities and fielding questions and stuff like that, but on Tuesdays each week I’m always um the rehearsals. And so um the Education Coordinator and I um, are always over there on Tuesdays at about 3 o’ clock we head over, and our operations team comes and helps us and we do all the setup for the ensembles, um for all 4 of them at the middle school. And uh we get them set up, and the students come in, and sign in, and they start the rehearsals. And then um, so my partner’s job is to stay there the entire time because I am the Youth Orchestra Manager and it’s important for me to make sure that I’m seeing the progression of all 5 ensembles. And so, um, towards the latter half of the rehearsal at the middle school I actually leave, and head back over to our offices here, so that I can see our upper-level orchestra rehearse too so that if (?) students if have questions, a lot of times it’s, um, sometimes they need recommendations, or signing off on hours for their volunteering, or questions for a concerto competition, things like that, so it’s important for me to make sure that I see them all, and so that’s, um, it’s a lot of interaction actually! And of course facilitating concerts and everything, with the students, so.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne introduces herself and her musical background. She also gives a broad overview of the Youth Orchestra program, its purpose, and her role as the manager.
Keywords: orchestra; program
Subjects: music; youth
Partial Transcript: K: And, um you mentioned this before, that you guys, um, the Youth Orchestra has students from all walks of life come. Um can you just delve a little bit more into this like, where are they coming from, um the range of schools that they attend, what districts, cause you did say some of them are coming in from over an hour, hour and a half, and Ms. Adams mentioned that too. So yeah, just-
H: Yeah, I think that Ms. Adams would have probably been able to answer that question a little bit better since I’m still new to the area and getting used to all of our schools, but we do have, um, a lot of students from… from the area within, you know I would say within 15 minutes, um, and then also I do know for sure there’s students that come from Williamsburg and Fredericksburg, um, and then we have a handful of students from RPS too, which we’re really working to get more of those students involved in the program. Um obviously Youth Orchestra does come with a price tag, and so we offer lots of opportunities – work study, and parent rep positions, and um, financial aid to try to be able to offer the opportunity to everybody who’s interested in it. Um and so um… as far as specific schools if you’re looking for, we have (?) from Atlee, um Maggie Walker Governor’s School, um, I mean I could go on and on haha. But yeah, it’s nice to see that they’re really coming from all over. So, got people that travel 15 minutes, 30 minutes, and hour, and hour plus.
K: Yeah. Um, you mentioned something really interesting is that, you know obviously it comes with a price tag and I mentioned before that I did like a, kind of like a, multiple-county orchestra, but there was no like financial aid or work study. Like can you specifically describe like, how the work study works and then also um, a bit about that financial aid?
H: Yeah absolutely. So we offer financial aid depending on the that forms we receive, up to 90%. So, um, at the end of that, that could mean that somebody maybe has to pay 50, 70 dollars for the year, um at most depending on what they receive percentage-wise, for your financial aid. Um and then we have a parent representative positions available, we usually have… about 6 to 7 each year, and that’s an opportunity for parents who are available during um the rehearsal hours to come in and basically be a parent rep. So each of them are assigned a specific ensemble in the year and they become that ensemble’s parent. And so, they have, um our ensemble totes, which every ensemble has a big plastic like Tupperware tote, and it has extra music and tuners and all the necessities they would need for rehearsal and so, they kind of help me with any (?) needs, any (?) needs, because I can’t be in one place at every time. And so they kind of help facilitate and um sometimes take rehearsal notes for me so the conductor and I can then post and share with them at a later date. Um, and so, in return, they receive a tuition discount waiver. And then our work study we usually just have one per year and it’s often times one of our older students in high school, and students are given quite a bit of responsibility, and they, uh, work with me to figure out a schedule where they can put in about 4 hours a week, and uh they come in and help me with music, help me with attendance and kind of, whatever else I need, and um in return they also get a heavy discount on their tuition. So it’s a really great way for them to kind of see the behind the scenes of the administrative aspect of it, since, as I mentioned a lot of my engagement with them is in rehearsals and you know, moving around and playing their instrument so, have an opportunity to come in and work in the offices, gives them an idea of what happens behind the scenes a little bit.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne explains how since the students in the Youth Orchestra come from a wide range of places in the state, they offer several types of financial aid to the members.
Keywords: schools; students
Subjects: aid; financial
Partial Transcript: K: Yeah, um definitely glad to hear that there are opportunities for kids to um, get a little financial aid because yeah, it’s definitely true that um, you know, people come from, like Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, um, that’s what Ms. Adams told me, and there are definitely some um neighborhoods and school districts that have more money to provide their students, um, whether that’s just for instruments or private lessons and then there are other counties where private lessons are not in the question, like, maybe not even the instrument you wanna play, so there’s definitely that disparity. Um, do you see that that plays any impact into the orchestra, how it functions, um because you really are having kids come who can have very nice instruments, afford private lessons, and then there’s the kid who’s renting the instrument, or maybe was just even given it.
H: Yeah, um, I would say that, um, in my time here I haven’t seen it, be a problem in any way. Um, luckily we have um, quite a few, um, instruments that the Symphony owns that we allow our students to use. So we have like for instance um, I think I’ve seen this happen most with our string bass players, obviously it’s a very large instrument, and students are coming straight from the school and using our carpool system, sometimes it’ll be a challenge to have that bass coming back and forth every Tuesday. And so we do have some that we have that we just keep at the school, that they can use each week and so they know where it is, they come in, they use it, they put it back at the end of the day and then you know maybe they use their bass at home to practice. But it allows them um, an easier experience getting to and from, um and just makes it more feasible because that could be an instance where a family could say, I- my son or daughter can’t participate because I just can’t get the bass back and forth every week, and so this is an instance where we try to work with that family and say, what can we do to facilitate that so that your son or daughter can participate. Um and so we have students that maybe (?) that requires an A clarinet for instance and that’s not a typical instrument that a… middle or high school musician would have, unless they’re really seriously considering going to school for music, in which they may have it. But we have English horns and A clarinets that we often lend for students if they need it for purposes of the ensemble, and so that’s another way that we can offer some help to them, so they don’t have to go out and try to rent it, and add an additional expense. So, yeah!
K: Yeah, you mentioned another barrier, um, there’s not just money but there’s also transportation. Some parents can’t drive their kids 45 minutes, an hour to rehearsal every Tuesday, um, so, can you explain the carpool system that you talked about?
H: Absolutely so um, I will say, to preface that, that our rehearsals used to start at 4:30, and um so knowing that our bus, um transportation systems in the schools which changed this year, we realized that it was going to be really difficult for some of our families to get to rehearsal on time, and therefore, you know, could cause some issues with timing and transportation, and so we decided to push the rehearsal to 4:45 to facilitate that. Um, and so so far that’s worked out really great, it’s kind of allowed families to not feel so rushed getting there. Obviously it’s not perfect for everybody but so far it’s worked out really well. Um and so our carpool system is something that we ask for when our students register, and so they fill out all their personal information all the stuff we need to know and then there’s a little checkbox that says are you interested in being included in carpool? It’s just a yes or no. And if they are we run a huge report of everybody who said yes um and they include like their school or like where they live and parent’s contact information, email or phone number, however they want to be contacted. And then, it gets pulled into one easy to read document that I often do like by school and by home so that if someone’s looking for someone to carpool with, it’s easy to read in multiple ways. We upload it to our members only website which is password protected so only our students and families have it. And um they can go in and look at the carpool list and try to find someone maybe they go to school with or who lives close in their neighborhood and they can carpool. And so we have a lot of families that do that, um maybe parents who can’t get out of work by 4:30 to take their students, or you know parents who are, um homeschool parents who have a little more flexibility willing to pick up a few students and bring them. And so we’ve been offering that for quite a while and it works really well and it’s a really helpful tool for our families to you know help them get to rehearsal on time.
K: Yeah, I mean that brings back memories of me carpooling with my friends to orchestra too. Um, okay, so do you find that- um, where a student’s from, the school district, or their neighborhood, um affects their involvement in the Youth Orchestra in any way, whether that’s involved or not, or the extent to which they’re involved. And I guess that question could also be phrased as, um, do you find a lot of students from certain areas, or is it really scattered throughout, you know the surrounding areas of Virginia?
H: Yeah, I would say, um, you know the likelihood that our students are driving an hour it’s definitely not a large majority, that’s definitely a smaller pool of students. Um, and then like, the majority of our students are from the area but I would say that we have less from the Richmond public school system and that’s as I mentioned something that we’re really trying to work towards spreading the word about the opportunities that we have, um knowing that the Youth Orchestra has a price tag as I mentioned before, um and how can we pull those students in and get them engaged and involved in the program.
K: And Ms. Adams mentioned that um, the orchestra was moved to Martin Luther King Jr. middle school in order to make it more accessible them like, if you can’t come to us, we will come to you, and yeah, just make it easier for you to get involved.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne goes into the other areas of support that the Youth Orchestra offers, such as borrowing an instrument and the carpool system.
Keywords: carpool; parents; students
Partial Transcript: Um, okay, so one aspect that I really like about the Youth Orchestra is that it supports the schools, it’s not there to replace them, because I know that students have to be in their school orchestra if they have one. Um, could you talk a bit about this and maybe also how else the Youth Orchestra supports schools?
H: Absolutely. So um… the Youth Orchestra has a school participation policy, um, as you mentioned, and so every student is required to get a form signed by their teacher and return it to me by the start of each season, and that just is a checklist that says they’re involved in orchestra band whatever musical activity. We prefer that they’re involved in the school program that they’re playing in our program. So, for instance, if they play violin in our program we want them to be in orchestra at school. Um, we uh, think it’s really important because Youth Orchestra is in fact not a substitute for school music program and vice versa. The school music program allows them much more regular approach, in rehearsal time, it just teaches very different things than the Youth Orchestra Program does and so we always stress that it is in no way replacing, they teach really different things and it’s really important for students to be, um, in their school music programs. Um and so as I mentioned we have a school participation form, um and you know we have some schools that maybe don’t have music programs in which case we have to figure out the solutions for that. But, um, we just feel that it’s really important. We have so many of our local music teachers that, uh work with us on a regular basis, we have um seating auditions that happen after each concert cycle, so for most of our ensembles there are 3, or 2 concert cycles, rather, there’s the first one which happens in September till December, and then the next one starts right after that and goes until May. And so um right after this winter concert we have seating auditions and um, our local educators, orchestra, band program teachers are the ones who come in and help us do those auditions. And so they come in and listen and work with our conductors to place our students and try to seat them for the next concert cycle. And so we’re working with them constantly and feel that it’s really important to have that connection so that we’re supporting each other.
K: Yeah, I really do like how it’s not just a give, or just a take relationship but you know you guys support the schools and the teachers support when it comes to auditions and other ways too.
H: Right, and they have students that they think might be a good fit for the orchestra to audition they send them our way to help them get involved, so it’s a great relationship.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne talks about the relationship that the Youth Orchestra has with the schools, and how both parties benefit from this partnership.
Keywords: schools; support
Subjects: program; students
Partial Transcript: K: Um, okay, so, hmm… um so I know Ms. Adams talked a lot about how the community supports the um schools and the Youth Orchestra, it raises money, gets donations, so that they can provide every child with choice, that was the aspect that she specifically specified, like, if they wanna play the trumpet, they should be able to play the trumpet, um not like the saxophone because, sorry, we don’t have a trumpet, whatever. However there are children who don’t need donations and fundraisers to be able to play the trumpet. The choice might already be there for them, cause their parents can afford it, or they have other resources. Um so basically, is this a problem or just something that you see in the Youth Orchestra like where some students don’t have a choice, or is it just not so present in the Youth Orchestra, like they, that kind of starts at the school level and then once they get to the Youth Orchestra it’s like, let’s just play-
H: Yeah, I would say that, I definitely can’t say that it never happens, um, but I think that in my, in my experience thus far, Youth Orchestra is a huge commitment. It’s a huge commitment that requires basically your entire day on Tuesdays, a lot of practicing and preparing in between, preparing for auditions, um, and you know many performance opportunities and performance obligations as a member, and um we have a really strict attendance policy because it’s only once a week. Um and so students are only allowed a certain number of absences per concert cycle, um in which case they then have to play for the conductors to ensure that they’re keeping up with their music. And so I think because it’s so, a demanding um, program, I think that the students around here are here because they really love it and really want to be. Um so I don’t know that I can really say that we have a lot that are kind of looking for a way out, if that makes sense. [Yeah, yeah, okay.] We’ve had a couple of that play multiple instruments and decided they wanted to go a different direction, we’ve had students that are in the orchestra, in the program that have stayed in the program but switched instruments. So, you know, happens sometimes.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne outlines the requirements of the Youth Orchestra program and how students fulfill those.
Keywords: orchestra; youth
Subjects: commitment; demanding
Partial Transcript: K: Yeah, um, that’s good. So, I think my last question will be, if the Richmond Symphony/Youth Orchestra Program were given a large sum of money, uh where do you think it would go towards or should go towards?
H: Oh, that’s a great question. Hmm… um, I think that because I’ve been personally invested in this since I started, would say that, I would put it towards uh, a talent development program for the organization. Uh right now we’re um, working with some money that we received to fund talent development program, which is to um support students who are interested in an orchestral experience, um that may be of color, and may not have the resources to um propel them forward in that career. And so, we have 3 students in our program right now that are part of the program, and we’ve been able to offer them additional lessons, like maybe our students were having a monthly lesson, so we are now doing weekly lessons instead of biweekly or (?) weekly. Um we have brought in some guest artists to work with our students who are planning to do some college visits to show them what school might be like at a liberal arts school, or a conservatory, how they might be different, or if they’re just, if they’re interested in performance or education or the many other avenues of music you can go down. Um, and it helps them with instrument repair and with recordings for summer programs, and so I think that seeing how well used that, those funds have been this year, I think that that’s something that I would like to be able to do for our students, to just provide them with more support if they’re really looking to go towards a career in music and be able to kind of show them the options. I remember when I was going to school, I was offered the option of music education or music performance, and I thought those were the only two things in music that I could do. And in fact, that’s incorrect. And there were so many options, and now I’m in arts administration something that I’m really passionate about and I love but I had no idea existed when I was in that mode of choosing college and choosing what my future was gonna look like. And so I think it’s really important to help both our students and their families understand what a career in music could look like. So that’s what I would do with the money, if they gave it to us.
Segment Synopsis: Corinne discusses what she feels is an area of the Youth Orchestra that, provided the resources to do so, she would develop first.
Keywords: development; support
Subjects: money; options
Partial Transcript: K: Yeah, and actually I just thought of one other question, cause um both you and Ms. Adams actually said a lot about wanting to get a lot more Richmond public schools students um involved in the Youth Orchestra. So I know that, um, it moved to MLK middle school, so that’s like, one way it has promoted that, but how else has the Youth Orchestra been trying to get more RPS students?
H: A lot of times, um through recruitment, our school teachers as I mentioned are sometimes our greatest partner in this because they are, they see the kids all the time, I’m kind of in my office a lot, um, and, not necessarily in the public school system but Christie-Jo, Ms. Adams does so much to help us, um, spread the word about it. So slowly but surely we’ve started to get more families interested. And I think it’s just about being willing to have the conversation and to um help them understand the program I think that, um, sometimes music um has a way of um, I think we can all say we don’t like it being elitist. And so I think that it’s so important for us to be able to show that we are so welcoming to everybody. And so being able to have a conversation with, um, these families to say like we really want your son or daughter to join the wind ensemble and play trumpet, and we meet on Tuesdays, these are the expectations, if you need instruments, we’re here to help with that, if they need carpool, we can help with that. Um, if you need assistance we can also help with that. So I think it’s important to be able to share the way in which they can be involved, instead of this is how much it costs to be in the Youth Orchestra Program, do you know what I mean by that? Once they’re here and engaged then um the opportunities open up even more, we have people who request to have our students play at various functions events and it’s a really exciting opportunity for our students to play in yet another capacity. There’s chamber music, there’s solo music, that they wouldn’t have in Youth Orchestra. And I think once they see all of that um it’s easier to keep them, but I think we can do a better job with getting the word out about that, um and so I hope to do more of that, now that I’ve settled in, and I’m getting to know more people um, yeah, that make sense?
K: Yeah, and um yeah it’s definitely an uphill battle because music is considered like, nonessential to a child’s education unfortunately, um it’s not part of like a core curriculum, so it could be difficult for schools that are struggling to have like, a math teacher, an English teacher like, oh, we don’t have time or money to focus on music but um, really just trying to get the word out about that, and say, we have resources, just join us because this is something you could be really passionate about. [Absolutely.] So yeah, um well, that’s all I have [Okay, awesome!] but thank you so much [You’re very welcome].
Segment Synopsis: Corinne concludes with a discussion about how the Youth Orchestra is trying to get more students from Richmond public schools. In doing so, she highlights the many resources that the Youth Orchestra offers.
Keywords: schools; teachers
Subjects: opportunities; recruitment