Throughout our almost 60-year history, YMF has continuously evolved our programs and focus in order to have a greater impact on young musicians. Our innovative service model is built on interconnected programs that allow for long-term involvement, meeting musicians’ changing needs over many years.
YMF’s activities include eight programs: the Debut Orchestra, Music 360°, the Music Director and Conductor-in-Residence Post, the Music Mentors Program, the Chamber Music Series, the Debut Concerto Competition, the Scholarship Program, and the Artistic Management Training Program.
Founded in 1955, the Debut Orchestra is the second-oldest pre-professional training orchestra in the country and is comprised of 70 of Los Angeles’ most talented 15 to 25-year-old musicians. For 59 consecutive seasons, the orchestra has performed admission-free concerts for the public in professional venues throughout Los Angeles, with audiences totaling more than 4,000 annually. The orchestra’s rich history includes more than 43 world premieres, including works by such world-renowned composers as Igor Stravinsky, Ingolf Dahl, Michael Torke and Paul Chihara. The orchestra adheres to a professional rehearsal schedule and performs the full range of orchestra literature, from Baroque to 21st Century. Musicians are selected each year through blind auditions, which are adjudicated by members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and other eminent Los Angeles-based musicians. Orchestra members receive a scholarship to support their studies. Over the years, approximately 3,000 young musicians have played with the Debut Orchestra. These musicians have emerged from the Orchestra exceptionally prepared for success in a wide-range of musical professions.
The 2014-2015 season marks the Debut Orchestra's 60th anniversary. Stay tuned for commemorative events and more exciting programming!
Music 360 Program:
During the annual concert season, at least two concerts are performed by YMF’s Debut Orchestra in venues to create greater access to classical music for diverse communities in Los Angeles County.
Music Director and Conductor-in-Residence Post:
The YMF Debut Orchestra Music Director and Conductor post –– a three-year position –– is one of the most prestigious training positions available to young conductors. Selected through national auditions, one conductor receives opportunity to plan, rehearse and conduct a series of approximately six concerts per season including symphonic, chamber orchestra, family and fundraising performances. Newly appointed Music Director and Conductor, Roger Kalia, begins his tenure in the 2012-2013 season.
Music Mentors Program:
Building on the YMF Mentor Artists Program that began in 1994, YMF launched a new Music Mentors Program in Fall 2011 Utilizing members of the Debut Orchestra and YMF’s vast pool of alumni, the Music Mentors Program offers at-risk students the opportunity to learn in a mutually beneficial, caring relationship that strengthens individual resiliency and the capacity for lifelong learning. In order to maximize their time with students, Mentors participate in professional development workshops with Pedagogy Director Lisa Schaeffer and travel to Lennox Middle School, Hobart Elementary, Para Los Niños Eisner Foundation Child Development Center, Para Los Niños Charter Elementary, Para Los Niños Charter Middle School, and Sacred Heart Elementary School to facilitate after-school instruction in a core curriculum of instrumental instruction and music appreciation. Mentors provide instruction on a variety of instruments, including: voice, violin, cello, harp, guitar, double and electric bass, flute, harp, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, percussion, and early childhood music.
Chamber Music Series:
Since 1989, the Chamber Music Series has been led by acclaimed concert pianist Delores Stevens, Artistic Director of both the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society and Chamber Music Palisades. Young musicians ages 11-18 are selected through annual auditions to receive a grant for a series of coaching sessions with leading professional musicians from the Los Angeles area. Ensembles deliver two performances at the end of the school year, including a live radio broadcast on KMZT’s “Sundays Live.”
Additionally, the Chamber Music Series sponsors the Chamber Music Composition Competition, which offers young Southern California composers ages 12-18 a chance to submit an original composition to be judged by a panel of professional composers. The winning composition is performed during our Chamber Music Series recitals.
Debut Concerto Competition:
Each year, the YMF Debut Concerto Competition awards talented musicians age 25 and under with solo performance opportunities along with honorariums ranging from $500 to $2,000 to further their studies. A panel of professional musicians and the Conductor of the Debut Orchestra select young musicians to perform a concerto with the Debut Orchestra during the upcoming season. More than 180 renowned musicians have had their earliest solo experience as a winner of this prestigious competition, including Edward Auer, pianist; Shirley Verrett, soprano; Christopher Parkening, guitarist; Misha Dichter, pianist; Glenn Dicterow, New York Philharmonic Concertmaster; Nathaniel Rosen, cellist; Elizabeth Rowe, Boston Symphony Principal Flutist; and Leila Josefowicz, violin soloist. 2012-2013 winners include Isabella Ma (First Prize), Kristen Choi (Special Recognition), and Leah Hansen (Discovery Prize, 2011 Winner).
David Weiss Scholarship Program:
In existence for the past 56 years, this program offers financial assistance to young musicians (ages 8 to 26) to continue private music instruction, including private music instruction, music camp/school tuition or festival attendance. Each year, musicians compete for approximately $20,000 in funding, with individual awards ranging from $250 to $10,000.
Artistic Management Training Program:
This unique learning experience provides the Debut Orchestra Manager and Debut Orchestra Librarian with on-the-job training that encompasses all facets of YMF’s arts education, music performance and programming, and community outreach activities. Paid summer internships are sponsored by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, offering students a deeper understanding of the work involved in nonprofit arts administration, of the role of the arts in a community, and of “real life” business skills that can be put to use in their future careers.