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January 9, 2007 > Fremont Youth Symphony - Annual crab feed fundraiser

Fremont Youth Symphony - Annual crab feed fundraiser

By Vidya Pradhan

The Fremont Youth Symphony (FYS) is holding its annual crab feed fundraiser January 26.

The FYS has been giving young aspiring musicians in the city an opportunity to spread their wings for the last seven years. In 1999, Larry Osborne, a member of the Opera San Jose Orchestra felt there was a void on this side of the bay where orchestral music was concerned. With the help of some other members of the orchestra, the Fremont Youth Symphony was established.

While the Fremont Unified School District has a band program in most elementary, middle and high schools in the city, the FYS fulfils a slightly different objective. The basic premise is to have a symphony orchestra for school age children. While the school band program concentrates on brass, wind and percussion instruments, the Symphony offers a platform for string instruments like the violin, viola and cello to shine. Wind instruments in an orchestra usually play the solo pieces while string instruments accompany as a group. The repertoire for an orchestra is extensive compared to a band, which gives depth to these performances.

The Symphony also has the advantage of being able to draw children from the entire community. Given varying levels of ability, the Youth Symphony features several categories in the string section. For kids with no musical experience at all, there is the Suzuki Strings program. It is a good way for parents to find out whether their children have the musical ability and required dedication without making an expensive investment in private lessons. For more accomplished players, auditions help them to find the right placement in the Symphony. Age is not a factor in placement since there are first and third graders in the strings program who are as musically accomplished as some of their older colleagues.

The main objective for the FYS is to prepare children to play in a group. "It's a way for kids to socially interact," notes Ted Seitz, director of Intermediate Strings. "It is highly organized and requires a great deal of cooperation among the students. It occupies the kids' time in a creative and productive manner. Only a small number of the kids will become professional musicians but that kind of musical training is good for you. It requires that you be, on the one hand, very disciplined and be able to respect authority. On the other hand, you must prepare by yourself and be able to motivate yourself to work alone. Self discipline is quite high. I've heard that many doctors have actually majored in music in college. It's supposed to be quite common."

Virginia Smedberg, director of Cantabile Strings at the Symphony, echoes those sentiments. "The string players play as a team. Team playing is a different skill from playing solo. The players have to be able to feel the rhythms and hear the sounds and match each other. Playing in an orchestra is truest group activity there is. When you are all in harmony and you carry out the vision of the composer it is the most incredible feeling." In one of last year's concerts, Virginia conducted a piece which required all the players to stop simultaneously in the middle. When her players accomplished that split second silence perfectly, it was a proud moment. "Unlike sports, playing in the orchestra is a team effort that does not involve winning or losing but is just pure achievement. Everybody wins," she adds.

The Symphony is currently funded primarily by student fees and some donations from local businesses. But fees and ticket sales never quite fully cover the costs. Even though parents put in a number of volunteer hours, there are still instructors to be paid and programs to be printed. Typically, the Symphony holds two to three concerts a year as well as a summer camp where extensive coaching is given to budding musicians. The next event for the FYS is a joint concert in March with the Ohlone Chamber Orchestra in which the kids will have a chance to play with professional musicians.

While a corporate sponsor for the Symphony would be an ideal solution, the Fremont Youth Symphony is holding a Crab Feed Fundraiser to help defray costs. You can dine on fresh crab, pasta salad and bread while enjoying great music. The student quartet plans to play a part of the Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 by Bach. A raffle and dancing are also part of the entertainment. Tickets ($40 for adults and $35 for kids) are available now.

To purchase tickets mail checks payable to the Fremont Youth Symphony at 3355, Country Drive, Fremont CA 94536. More information is available online at

Make a note on your calendar to show your support for the young musicians of your community. And don't delay since there are only a limited number of seats available.

FYS 2007 Crab Feed Fundraiser
Friday, January 26
6:30 p.m.
Music, dancing, raffle & plenty of crab
Centerville Community Center Rehearsal Hall
3355 Country Drive, Fremont
(510) 796-6941

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