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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.

Amazing Kid! of the Month for May, 2008:
Amazing Young Musicians, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra; Orange County, California

Amazing Kids! of the Month, May 2008: Amazing Young Musicians, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

Quotes of the Month

“Music, more than any other subject, has made me a whole person.”

Andrew Izumi, French Horn player,
Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

“It is a great joy for me to have the opportunity to work with these fine musicians. Their dedication and musicianship is inspiring. I work on improving their orchestral skills and introducing them to new and great repertoire. I derive great satisfaction in the progress that each of the players shows over the course of a year. It is my hope that their time in the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra will enable them to grow as artists, and provide a strong foundation for future years of music making and music appreciation.”

Michael Hall, Music Director,
Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

Our May 2008 Amazing Kids! of the Month:

The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra (PSYO) has been  performing for 15 years and today it consists of musicians from 40 different schools around Orange County, California. The kids who are part of the orchestra get an opportunity to learn music from professional musicians and perform at the world class Renee and Henry Segerstrom Hall. Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra has not only helped these kids to be better musicians but has also made them better individuals and leaders. Read more to see how this has been a life changing experience for so many young people.

Don't forget: If you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it! Simply complete our Amazing Kids! of the Month award online nomination form, visit our AKOM nomination information page ( or email us!

Table of Contents

    buttonAmazing Young Musicians: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

    buttonThe PSYO Weekend Retreat

    buttonFeaturing Some Amazing Young Musicians

    buttonRelated Links and Contact Information

    Amazing Young Musicians: The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

    Amazing Young Musicians of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra
    Amazing Kids! of the Month, May 2008: the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra

    In 1993, the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra gave its first performance in Orange County, California. Today, these amazing musicians come from 40 different schools in the area. To become an orchestra member, talented musicians between 12 and 18 years of age must audition. Then, individuals are selected by judges who are professional  musicians with the Pacific Symphony. Last year, 310 musicians auditioned for the youth orchestra.—103 were chosen.

    Amazing Young Co-Principal Trombonist Danny Lawlor

    Amazing Young Co-Principal Trombonist Danny Lawlor

    The number of musicians playing each instrument in the orchestra follows:

    1st Violin---18,    2nd Violin---18,   Viola---12,   Cello---12,   Bass---4,   Flute---4

    Oboe---4,    Clarinet---4,   Bassoon---4,   French Horn---6,   Trumpet---4

    Trombone---4,    Tuba---1,   Percussion---6,   Harp---2

    It is important to note that members of the youth ensemble for one year are not always picked the next year. As you might imagine, the competition is tough!

    Amazing Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra Conductor, Michael Hall

    Amazing PSYO Conductor Michael Hall

    The Music Director of PSYO is Michael Hall. He is also the Associate Conductor of  the Pacific Symphony. Michael is very caring and a great inspiration to the kids. The Pacific Symphony Music Director, Carl St. Clair, acts as artistic advisor to the PSYO. Periodically, he conducts the group in rehearsals. Every now and then, guest artists performing with the Pacific Symphony work with the PSYO. The kids thus have the benefit of learning from the experiences of several great musicians.

    The Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra presents a three concert subscription series during the season. And the performances are at the world class Renee and Henry Segerstrom Hall. The final performance this season is May 18. (If you live in the area, or will be visiting this month, you may want to attend and hear some amazing young musicians perform!) The repertoire is as follows:

    Dimitri Shotakovich - Festive Overture
    Frank Ticheli - Radiant Voices
    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake Suite

    In addition, the PSYO has one performance where they play beside the Pacific Symphony. Young musicians get the chance to listen and learn from professional musicians. It is truly a unique and valuable experience.

    Here's the schedule of their final performances for this season:

    PSYO Chamber Concert, Sunday, May 11. 4PM. Laguna Woods, California

    PSYO Season Finale, "America Meets Russia", Sunday, May 18.  7PM. Renee and Henry Segerstrom Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Costa Mesa, California

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    The PYSO Weekend Retreat

    Members of the Pacific Youth Orchestra at a fun-filled Weekend Retreat

    Early this season, the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra members spent a weekend at a Palomar Mountain retreat in Palomar, California. It was an excellent opportunity for everyone to get to know each other. Participants shared fun-filled activities. And yes, intensive rehearsal time was definitely part of the program. Everybody involved had a great time!

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    A Few Members Share Their Stories

    Each and every individual in PSYO is talented and absolutely wonderful. Though we don't have enough space here to share all their stories, let's meet a few of these amazing young musicians from PYSO.

    Amazing Young Principal Violist, Sean Chung

    Amazing Young Principal Violist, Sean Chung

    “I say with confidence that performing and interacting with everyone involved in the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra has been a positive experience that not only has changed my vision for music but also helped to develop a sense for leadership.” says Sean Chung, the Principle Violist with the orchestra. Although he was passionate about music from the beginning, playing with the orchestra has taught him a lot. “I now pay so much more attention to technical details without losing the sensitive feeling for musical expression.” he says. The experience has not only made him a better musician but a better leader too. “I found that the condescending approach to forcing certain ideas to be ineffective; rather I saw more meaning from having a patient, courteous, and collaborative personality.” he says as he explains the true meaning of leadership.

    Amazing Young French Horn Player, Elyse Woodruff

    Amazing Young French Horn Player, Elyse Woodruff     

     “As a member of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, I have had the honor to perform in the brand new Rene and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which has been a dream come true.”  Elyse says. Elyse's older sister encouraged her to be a musician. Before being a part of Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, she has been a part of BIOLA Youth Instrumental Music program which has played for various retirement homes, hospitals for children with disabilities, and for the homeless. She has also participated in marching band at La Habra High School and Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra. “My future holds music as a primary focus, only second to my other passion which is art. I am planning on attending California State University Long Beach in the fall semester of 2008 to double major in Music Performance and Art. I am so excited to broaden my horizons and my skills, and I can’t wait to see what else Music has in store for me.” she says.

    Amazing Young Principal Bass Player, Daniel Smith

    Amazing Young Principal Bass Player Daniel Smith

    Daniel Smith, 17 has been the Principal Bass of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra for two years.
    This experience has afforded him an invaluable opportunity to play challenging repertoire in a world-class
    venue with highly motivated and talented musicians under the skillful direction of Conductor Michael Hall.
    He has several other musical performances to his credit. Daniel has been playing Double Bass since
    the age of 12 as a member of the American Youth Symphony. He has served as Principal Bass of his high
    school’s String Orchestra since 2006 as well, and was Co-Principal Bass for the 2007 CMEA All State
    High School Honor Orchestra. In 2006 and 2007 he participated in SCSBOA All Southern California High
    School Honor Orchestras and Festival Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall under Conductor Larry
    Livingston. In March 2008, Daniel performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion under the baton of John Williams
    with the American Youth Symphony for their 43rd Annual Benefit Gala Concert.  Daniel’s future plans include
    attending college as a Bass Performance/Pre-Med major.

    Amazing Young Percussionist, Emily Backal

    Amazing Young Musician Emily Backal

    Seventeen year old Emily Backal is a junior at Orange County High School of Arts and is a Percussionist in PSYO. She has been part of a number of musical groups like Honor Orchestra San Juan Capistrano School District, Pacific Coast Church Youth music leader, Orange County High School of the Arts Symphony 2007-2008 and Wind Ensemble 2005-2008 to name a few. She was also awarded Rookie of the year for Wind Ensemble in 2006.  When she’s not playing or practicing her instrument, she enjoys hiking, hanging out with her friends, and watching Lost and Project Runway. She plans on attending a four year music conservatory with a dream of performing with a major city symphony and Broadway musicals someday.

    Amazing Kids! congratulates all of the members of the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra for their amazing accomplishments!

    Related Links and Contact Information

    Link to Mackenzie Bart's websiteTo learn more about the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, visit

    Contact Information

    Keith Imper
    Executive Director of Instrumental Training Programs
    , 714-876-2346

    Melissa Craig
    Manager, Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra, 714-876-2333


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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered. (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!)

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it! Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are! We are always looking for new stories. And don't be shy! We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them? Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talent.

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