Orchestra Students in Columbus Youth Symphony

The school has an orchestra made up of students, with different levels of playing skills, that supports the whole ensemble overall, but some members take it to a whole new level by participating in the prestigious Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. Junior, John Li, junior, Sruthi Venkatachalam, and, freshman, Emily Chen are the students who were accepted into this program to improve their musicianship even further.

According to the Columbus Symphony website, musicians from grades 9-12 perform under the conductor, Peter Safford Wilson, the Associate Conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

This ensemble rehearses every Wednesday at the Riffe Center in Columbus or other high schools to prepare for concerts.

Li is currently the concertmaster of the youth orchestra, which is one of the most important positions. He started playing the violin in fourth grade, and has been playing since. He has also gotten into All-State orchestra three times.

“Since I got the position of the concertmaster this year, I feel as if I have a sense of more responsibility. This program also gives me the opportunity to perform for people that makes me think I could do something for society,” said Li.

Venkatachalam is currently the assistant principal for the second violin section. She has been playing the violin for about 10 years and is planning on double majoring in music performance and another of her choice.

“I was very ecstatic when I found out I got accepted into the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra because I practiced very hard and it proved to me that I am progressing well with the violin. Although I was nervous since it was my first year, I found out the environment is very friendly even though everyone is very talented,” said Venkatachalam.

Some of the concert repertoire they have already played are “Norwegian Dances, Op. 35” by Grieg, “Russian Easter Overture, op. 36” by Rimsky-Korsakov, and “Suite Algerienne, op. 60” by Saint-Saens.

“This season we continue to have three main concerts. My expectations are elevated this season in that we are performing more repertoire than in the past,” said Wilson.

Chen is in the second violin section of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. She has been playing the violin for 6 years and is also in the chamber orchestra in school.

The Columbus Youth Symphony, in the midst of one of its many acclaimed performances.

“I think this program is a great opportunity to be able to rehearse with wind and percussion instruments. I really enjoy being in CSYO because it is different from the typical stringed orchestra,” Chen said.

For this summer, the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra and the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra are planning on going to Carnegie Hall. These two programs will fund the whole trip, as the instrumentalists will only pay for their stay, transportation, food, etc.

“We have come to believe that only musicians of extraordinary talent perform there. I am convinced that we have such a program in Columbus, and the Orchestra deserves this stage! I am delighted that we are making this happen, and that over 80 percent of the musicians in the current orchestra are able to make the trip,” said Wilson.

The pieces the Columbus Youth Symphony is planning on performing are “Nocturne for Orchestra, op. 84” by Liebermann, “Academic Festival Overture” by Brahms, and “The Firebird Suite” by Stravinsky.

The students who are in Columbus Youth Symphony are getting the experience to be with different percussions and wind instruments, meet talented musicians, and have the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall. All these aspects of this program allows them to increase their musical skills.


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