In the summer of 1986 distinguished British musician Stuart Knussen sat down with a few teachers and parents to confide his consuming passion to found a youth orchestra in Victoria. After a lifetime of music making (Knussen was described by Bruno Walter and Vladimir Ashkenazy as the world’s finest bass player) he wanted young musicians to discover the joy of bringing to life the great masterpieces of music. His dream very soon grew into a lively, musically challenging reality, as 40 young musicians came together in early September to rehearse Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony. The GVYO was born. After Knussen’s sudden death in 1990, his vision was kept alive by the dedication of the young musicians and an extraordinary array of gifted conductors.
The orchestra began its second decade with the appointment of János Sándor as Music Director. Mr. Sándor, a musician of international distinction and experience, was deeply committed to the musical and personal growth of his players. Keeping the founding vision in clear sight Sándor fostered the orchestra’s development, overseeing the preparation of three or four programmes of music annually, equipping each player to rise to the challenge of demanding repertoire. János Sándor died in May 2010. During his fifteen years’ leadership the orchestra’s position in the community became firmly established, and its reputation respected across the country.
At the beginning of the 17th season, Yariv Aloni was appointed Associate Music Director. A respected conductor and violist, Mr. Aloni has been involved with the GVYO since 1994. He worked closely with his mentor and friend János Sándor to challenge the players to achieve the highest standards of instrumental and musical discipline. In recent years Yariv Aloni assumed an increasing leadership role, and at the commencement of the 25th Season he was appointed GVYO Music Director.
The GVYO strongly believes in its mandate to be a musical resource to the community at large, especially to other youth. Over the years it has presented concerts and workshops for countless students in schools locally and as far away as Haida Gwaii and Yukon. The young orchestra members are particularly well-placed to communicate with and mentor their peers.
GVYO String Training Camp, an outreach initiative begun in summer 2008 under Yariv Aloni’s direction, offers a week-long string development workshop open to young string students, both GVYO members and non-members. GVYO Directors and Coaches, assisted by alumni and senior GVYO players in a peer mentoring role, have led this engaging and inspiring camp for the past three years. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.
Since its inception the GVYO has offered a stage for its members to perform solo repertoire, with more than 50 young soloists benefiting from these ‘stepping stone’ opportunities. Every year GVYO players are selected for positions in ensembles such as the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, l’orchestre de la francophonie canadienne, and Festivals at Banff, Orford, Aspen, Tanglewood and further afield. GVYO alumni hold posts performing and teaching in musical ensembles, conservatories, universities and schools throughout the world. Equally important, they become the informed audience in our concert halls. Whatever their profession, their lives will be enriched by the presence of music.
a KATHERINE ROGERS design