Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

July 18, 2006 > Beckoning notes

Beckoning notes

by H. S. Sheikh

Renowned American violinist, Sarah Chang, recorded her debut album at the age of nine after six years of training and practice. Maybe it truly is never too early to cultivate musical talent. Had her parents turned down their three-year-old daughter's request for a violin, the world may have been deprived of a violinist whom Yehudi Menuhin deemed "the most wonderful, the most perfect, the most ideal...ever heard."

The Fremont Youth Symphony (FYS) offers a place for Chang's musical successors to develop their skills. Founded in 1999 by Executive Director Larry Osborne, FYS offers weekly rehearsals, coaching by professional musicians, frequent public performances, and solo opportunities to students between the ages of five and twenty. Beginners may start on violin, viola, cello, or bass, and with ambition and practice they can progress through several groups before arriving at the senior-level Symphony Orchestra. For woodwind, brass, and percussion players, the Repertory Orchestra and Symphony plus Wind and Percussion Ensembles are available.

FYS boasts a skilled staff behind the conductor's baton. Eugene Sor, a young, talented Bay Area musician, was appointed Conductor and Music Director in 2005. Sor holds degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of California in Los Angeles. He is Conductor of a Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra and teaches at both Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont and Crowden School of music in Berkeley. In Sor's opinion, the FYS is valuable because "being in an orchestra develops not only rewarding musical skills but also those to do with discipline, teamwork, and leadership, which can be applied to every facet of life."

Virginia Smedberg and Christine Lee join Sor as Director of Strings and Suzuki Violin Director, respectively. Smedberg received her master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the orchestras of Opera San Jose and West Bay Opera. Lee holds degrees from California State University in Hayward and University of Illinois in Chicago. She also directs the orchestra at All Saints School in Hayward.

FYS rehearsals are held at the Centerville Community Center. Students get the chance to publicly showcase their talents during annual concerts at the historic Veteran's Building in Niles and the stately Jackson Theatre at Ohlone College. Now in its 8th season, the Youth Symphony will participate in the Celebrate Fremont 50th Anniversary festivities. Furthermore, students will have their hands full attending San Francisco concerts, professional sporting events, hosting an annual Concerto Competition, performing alongside the Ohlone Chamber Orchestra, holding a public Crab/Spaghetti fundraiser, and joining, for the first time, the Kennedy High School Wind Ensemble for its Spring Concert.

The 2006-2007 FYS Season opens on Monday, September 11. Next auditions are scheduled for Monday, August 28 and Tuesday, August 29 at 4 p.m. at the symphony office at 3375 Country Drive in Fremont.

Separately, FYS also presents their 7th annual Summer Music Camp between July 31 and August 4 at Ohlone College, including a free-to-the-public String Day at the Fremont Main Library.

So, music lovers rejoice! The Fremont Youth Symphony is in diligent pursuit of preservation and development of future musical talent in the Bay Area. It's something for parents of the musically inclined to take seriously. As Johannes Brahms once quipped, "a symphony is no joke." He was one who knew.

For more information, visit or call 510-796-6941 or email

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