About Huntsville Youth Orchestra
Goals – The Huntsville Youth Orchestra (HYO) is dedicated to providing children and youth with a fun, musical experience and benefits/rewards that will last a lifetime. The program instills cooperation, discipline and patience, developing young musicians into appreciative listeners and participants. The HYO was founded in 1961 by Russell Gerhart, founding conductor of the Huntsville Symphony, to provide a quality musical experience and pre-professional training through the performances of great symphonic literature. Students that participate in the HYO are expected to work hard and come to rehearsals prepared. In doing so, students develop great pride in their accomplishments while they continue to expand their love of great music.
Eligibility – Elementary through high school age youth who play an orchestral instrument and can read music are eligible to participate. With the exception of Novice Strings, which accepts beginners, students must participate in their school program or be enrolled in private lessons.
Auditions – Six different orchestral ensembles are offered to accommodate all levels of experience. Only the Huntsville Youth Symphony, Sinfonia and Philharmonia orchestras require auditions.
Sinfonia – The Sinfonia is an intermediate full orchestra open by audition to accomplished string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students from throughout the Tennessee Valley. String players wishing to audition for Sinfonia should be performing repertoire at the Suzuki Book 6 level (or equivalent), and should be enrolled in private lessons. Woodwind, brass and percussion students interested in auditioning for Sinfonia must possess strong music reading skills. The Sinfonia performs frequently in a wide variety of concert settings. Sinfonia is conducted by Joe Lee.
Philharmonia – The Philharmonia is an intermediate full orchestra open by audition to accomplished string students and wind and percussion students with at least one year of playing experience. String players wishing to audition for Philharmonia should be performing repertoire at the Suzuki Book 3-4 level (or equivalent), possess intermediate music reading skills, and should be enrolled in private lessons. Students are asked to bring their own music stands to rehearsals. For performances, females wear white long sleeved blouses and long black skirts with black shoes and hose, and males wear white dress shirts with black pants and black shoes and socks. Bowties and cummerbunds are furnished by the HYO for concerts. Philharmonia is conducted by Susan Mullen.
Concert Orchestra – The Concert Orchestra is an intermediate level string orchestra for young string players with at least two years of experience. Concert Orchestra students continue to explore and develop skills and techniques essential for orchestral playing. This orchestra is designed to be a 2-4 year course. Students wishing to participate should be in Suzuki Book 3 level (or equivalent), and possess intermediate music reading skills. Concert Orchestra is conducted by Kelli Battraw.
Intermezzo Orchestra – The Intermezzo Orchestra is an elementary level string orchestra for young string players with at least one year of experience. Intermezzo Orchestra students begin to explore and develop skills and techniques essential to orchestral playing. Students who wish to participate should be studying from the second half of Suzuki book 1 or Book 2 level (or equivalent), and possess elementary music reading skills. Intermezzo Orchestrais is conducted by Kelli Battraw.
Novice Strings – The Novice Strings program is a beginning level course, and open to children with little to NO experience. Novice Strings focuses on the development of elementary techniques, note reading, and the art of string playing. Students are enrolled for the entire year at the beginning of Fall semester only. Students may be admitted later in the academic year at the discretion of the instructor. Students are asked to bring their own music stands to rehearsals. For concert dress for performances, please check with the conductor. Instrument choices and rental will be discussed at the first rehearsal, and students will begin playing their instruments the following week. Novice Strings is conducted by Bethany Wing.
Chamber Ensembles – Members of the Youth Symphony and Sinfonia may participate in chamber music rehearsals and coaching while building camaraderie and advanced musicianship skills. Ensembles may perform at chamber concerts and community events.
Joseph Lee, conductor, is currently the Music Director of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra, and conductor of the Huntsville Youth Symphony and the Sinfonia Orchestra. Mr. Lee is the Music Director of the Tennessee Valley Music Festival, Resident Conductor of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Festival Internacional de Música Cobano (Costa Rica), and the Director of Music Ministries at East End United Methodist Church in Nashville, TN. He has led a diverse group of performers including Grammy award winning artists Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, the world-famous Canadian Brass, the performers of Cirque de la Symphonie, Act of Congress, Riders in the Sky, Tony Award nominee Jodi Benson, and other Broadway stars including Gary Mauer, Julia Murney, Virginia Woodruff, Burke Moses, and many others.
Mr. Lee served on the conducting staff of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival from 2007-2011, and served as the conductor of the University Orchestra at Sewanee from 2011-2014. In the Spring of 2011, Mr. Lee returned to his alma mater to serve a one-semester appointment at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Orchestra and Conducting, and currently serves on the faculty of the University of Alabama, Huntsville. In addition to his regular conducting activities, Mr. Lee frequently travels the Southeast US and Central America leading clinics, adjudicating band and orchestra festivals, and guest conducting. Originally a bassoonist and cellist, Mr. Lee has a passion for Eastern music and studies the Japanese shakuhachi and the Armenian duduk.
Mr. Lee has participated in music festivals and master classes both at home and abroad. In master class, he has studied with world-renowned instructors including Kenneth Keisler, Otto Werner Mueller, Christoph Eschenbach, Neeme Jarvi, Paavo Jarvi, David Hayes, and Duain Wolfe. Mr. Lee graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. Conducting teachers and mentors include maestros Robin Fountain, Emelyn Bingham, Taavo Virkhaus, James Paul, and Carlos Miguel Prieto.
Susan Mullen, Philharmonia conductor, is the Orchestra Director at The Webb School in Bell Buckle, TN. She is an active violinist, violist, conductor and clinician. She serves on the conducting staff of The Tennessee Valley Music Festival and Festivo de la Musica del Pacifico in Cobano, Costa Rica. She also conducts Horizons, an adult string group with the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Mullen is the Assistant Concertmaster of the Murfreesboro Symphony Orchestra and an active free-lance musician throughout the region. She was the co-founder, Music Director, and Conductor of the Murfreesboro Youth Orchestra for 11 years. She earned her M.M. from the University of Wyoming, continuing her studies in Neuchatel, Switzerland as a Rotary International Scholar.
Currently she serves as President-Elect of the Tennessee Chapter of the American String Teachers Association.
Kelli Battraw, a native of Arizona, received her Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University in Music Education, with an emphasis in string instruments.
After graduating, Kelli spent 4 years teaching elementary school orchestra in the Chandler, AZ school district. In that time she also had the opportunity to work with students in both district and state elementary orchestra festivals. Upon moving to Huntsville,Kelli began work as the Arts-in-Education Coordinator for the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, a position which she held for 3 ½ years.
Kelli has been teaching private string lessons since 1997, a passion she continues today. She lives in Madison with husband, Aaron, and their three sons Adam, Hyrum, and Brigham and Spencer.
Bethany Wing received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Georgia at Athens. She spent the next few years teaching middle school orchestra at East Cobb Middle school in Marietta, Georgia. Later, she earned a Master of Arts degree from Tennessee Technological University. She has enjoyed performing with many regional and local orchestras.
While in college, Mrs. Wing began teaching private violin and viola lesson which she continues, currently. She and her husband, Frank, live in Madison with their three children, Connor, Emily, and Alex.
Huntsville Youth Orchestra 2018-2019 Season Sponsorships
Sponsorship of the Season
The James Cecil and Margaret G. Ashburn Foundation
Holiday Concert Sponsor (Dec. 2)
HYO Winter Concert Sponsor (March 3) Concert Sponsor
HYS Winter Concert Sponsor (March 10) Concert Sponsor
Spring Concert Sponsor
The Schrimpsher Family
The James Cecil and Margaret G. Ashburn Foundation
Music Director, HYS, and Sinfonia Conductor, Joseph Lee
Sponsored by Lisa D’Agostino
Philharmonia Conductor, Susan Mullen
Sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Mel Price and
Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Lienau
Concert and Intermezzo Conductor, Kelli Battraw
Sponsored by Roderick and Cindy Zalamea
Novice Strings Conductor, Bethany Wing
Sponsored by Lawren’s
Alice and Bill Battle
Joe and Sylvia Beardon
Harry and Ginger Beazley
Dr. Diego Bedoya and Dr. Ingrid Roig
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boyd
Eric and Karen Bright
Dr. and Mrs. Wayne Bucknor
Greg and Sara Cooper
James and Mary Culberson
Dr. Gagon Dhaliwal
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Douglas
Mr. and Mrs. Guillaume Duykers
Steve and Darlene Emmons
Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Enfinger
Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Fox
The Gordon Family
Mr. and Mrs. Griffin
Mrs. Mary M. Hiatt
Kil-Hong and Yong-Ae Han
Mr. and Mrs. Johnnie Pierce
Mr. Jungho Jung and Sunyung Song
Brad and Pam Korb
Brian and Scarlett Matthews
Richard and Dawn McCann
Mr. and Mrs. Ojha
Ben and Becca Phillips
Dr. and Mrs. Frank Scalfano
Dr. Beverly Stickles and Dr. Joshua Krasnow
H. Swan and A. Beumer
Dr. Qi Wan and Mrs. Sarah Qiao
Mr. and Mrs. Hwayoung Yoo
Mr. and Mrs. Renato and Norma Zalamea
Thank you to all of our community sponsors. Without your support none of this would be possible!