“The Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra plans to celebrate its 10th anniversary in a big way,” writes Nancy Gilson in Monday’s (6/19) Columbus Dispatch (Ohio). “On Saturday, 26 African-American musicians (along with about two dozen family members and friends) will board a bus and head south. The violinists, violists, cellists and bass players ages 8 to 17 will spend a week touring and performing in Atlanta; New Orleans; and Huntsville and Birmingham, Alabama…. The group [was] founded in 2007 by longtime central Ohio volunteer Catherine Willis…. Much of the orchestra’s repertoire blends classical and contemporary, such as ‘Mozart Meets Miles,’ a catchy merger of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik with Miles Davis jazz—a piece arranged by the orchestra’s director, Stephen Spottswood…. The orchestra consists of about 40 young musicians, who rehearse three Saturdays a month … and perform more than 30 concerts or outreach performances a year…. According to the League of American Orchestras, fewer than 5 percent of American orchestra musicians are of black or Latino descent. … Many of the [Urban Strings musicians] play with other area groups, including the Columbus Symphony youth orchestras…. [The musicians] say that Urban Strings fills an important musical niche.”

Posted June 19, 2017

Pictured: Musicians of the Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra