The three ensembles of the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon are getting ready for their series of three spring concerts this weekend. Each concert will feature the Youth Strings (entry-level), Youth Orchestra (intermediate) and Youth Symphony (advanced). The series is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 18, at Southern Oregon University's Music Recital Hall, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, at Grants Pass High School's Performing Arts Center, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass; and at — p.m. Sunday, May 20, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.




A highlight of the concerts will be Youth Symphony co-concertmaster and 2007 Concerto Competition Winner, Christopher Scherer. Scherer will perform the first movement of Violin Concerto, Opus 47 by Jean Sibelius. A senior at North Medford High School, Scherer has received many honors and awards. Most recently he was selected to participate in the 2007 Kennedy Center/National Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute in Washington, D.C.




Also on the program for YSSO's concert series will be Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 as well as works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and other composers.




A group of music teachers and members of the Rogue Valley Symphony Orchestra founded YSSO to provide performance experiences under the leadership of professional conductors and music coaches, to improve the quality of life in the community and encourage a lifelong appreciation of classical music and the arts. The organization gave its first concert on Dec. 4, 1988, in Ashland. Two years later, the YSSO held the first of its annual Concerto Competitions to select advanced YSSO musicians to perform as soloists with the Youth Symphony. In the 2005-06 season, Philip Lopez, French horn player, Paul Grobey, violinist and Youth Symphony concertmaster, and Lucy Claire Curran, violinist, were featured as soloists. During the 2006-07 season, Abby Young, violinist and 2006 Concerto Competition Winner, performed with the Youth Symphony and YSSO alumnus Markus Tannenholz was the featured guest artist in a performance of a trumpet concerto.




Over the years conductors have included Clarence Shaw, Arthur Shaw, Fred Palmer, Sylvain Fremaux and Leanna Sterios. YSSO's current conductor, Cynthia Hutton, became music director and conductor of the Youth Symphony and Preparatory Orchestra in 1995. That same year, the YSSO expanded the Fall, Winter and Spring Concert Series to include performances in professional and community venues in Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland. A third ensemble, Youth Strings (for entry-level musicians), was developed in 1998. The YSSO received the Southern Oregon Arts Council's Award for Arts Education in 2000 in recognition of its music education programs and high artistic standards.




Faina Podolnaya became YSSO Associate Conductor and Conductor of Youth Strings in 2000-01. A Chamber Music Series began in 2001-02. The YSSO's current season of 14 concerts also includes performances at the Rogue Valley Manor retirement community.




In addition to the Concert Series performances, the YSSO offers tuition and lesson scholarships, sectional rehearsals and a chamber music series through its education and outreach program. It is the policy of the YSSO that all qualified students may participate regardless of financial circumstances.




Tickets for each concert are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at Paddington Station, Ashland; Larry's Music, Medford and Grants Pass. Tickets for the May 20 performance in Medford are also available through the Craterian Theater's box office at 779-3000.




See or call 858-8859.