Founded in 2002, the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra organization provides talented young musicians in the regional Connecticut and New York areas with exceptional learning and performance opportunities, while fostering an awareness and appreciation of the enjoyment and power of music. Twenty-five young musicians were selected as members of the inaugural youth orchestra, then called the Ridgefield Symphony Youth Orchestra, which began weekly rehearsals in January 2003. In the fall of 2005, the program grew to include a String Ensemble which allowed the organization to reach and nurture a broader range of musical talents and abilities. In August 2008, as part of our goal to establish greater recognition of the organization’s regional focus, we changed our name to the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra. In 2010, the WCYO added a Wind Ensemble to our program offerings. In 2019 WCYO expanded its program once again with the addition of the Charles Ives Music Festival (CIMF) at WCYO, a chamber music program built around a series of community-priced professional concerts, youth and adult chamber workshops, and masterclasses. For 2020, we have renamed the String Ensemble to String Orchestra to more accurately reflect their repertoire. Together the Symphony Orchestra, String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble consist of nearly one hundred musicians ages ten to eighteen. Dedicated musicians are encouraged to audition for a position in a WCYO ensemble. Acceptance into the WCYO is by audition only. (See Audition tab.)
The mission of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra is to educate and inspire young musicians through the study and performance of classical and contemporary musical works, participation in enrichment activities, and engagement with the community.
Our program provides an opportunity to develop artistry and technique, as well as a profound understanding and appreciation of instrumental music. Our members are challenged not only to perform at the highest level, but also to build character, creativity and self-esteem, with music as their guide.
Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra holds the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion central to achieving our mission to educate and inspire young musicians through the study and performance of classical and contemporary musical works, participation in enrichment activities, and engagement with the community. We stand against racism and all forms of discrimination, we embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusion, and engage all our youth musicians to help them thrive and find joy through music. We affirm our commitment to setting an example that demonstrates kindness, understanding, and a willingness to listen and learn. We are guided by the beliefs that music can change the world, that our youth are our future, and that we can use music as a way to discover and strengthen that which connects us all.