Tulsa Youth Symphony Debuts Dec. 2

By K.J. Webb
Contributing Writer

IMPRESSIVE SOUNDS: Ron Wheeler conducts the members of the Tulsa Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Courtesy Tulsa Youth Symphony

The Tulsa Youth Symphony () was established in the early 1960s as an adjunct part of the Tulsa Philharmonic. Since its founding nearly 60 years ago, has grown to over 150 young musicians from third graders through grade 12.

is comprised of three ensembles: the Symphony Orchestra conducted by Ron Wheeler, the Concert Orchestra, added in 2003 and conducted by Pete Peterson, and the Preparatory String Orchestra, added in 2016 and conducted by Michael Nicholson and Amelia Ivory.

presents Fall, Winter and Spring Concerts at the Union High School Performing Arts Center (), and hosts an annual Play-A-Thon, a free event at Woodland Hills Mall.

Its musicians play an impressive and challenging selection of works every year. Pieces have included selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, the first movement of Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor by Camille Saint Saëns, the finale of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, Grieg’s Prelude of the Holberg Suite and Sibelius’ Finlandia.

Wheeler, a violinist with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, has been executive director and symphony conductor since 1972. He has conducted for Tulsa Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and the Sunriver, Oregon Music Festival Orchestra, and served on the Oral Roberts University music faculty for 14 years.

Wagner joined as co-conductor of the Symphony Orchestra in 2002. He also serves as Director of Instrumental Music at Bixby High School and conductor of the University of Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

Concert Orchestra conductor Peterson has been a cellist with the Tulsa Philharmonic, Tulsa Opera, Tulsa Ballet, Gettysburg Symphony and Signature Symphony. Peterson teaches music at Union High School, and has led the orchestra in competitions across the country.

Nicholson, Preparatory String Orchestra co-conductor, is a founding member of the Tulsa Rock Quartet. He has performed with several symphony orchestras in California and currently performs as Principal Second Violin for Tulsa Symphony, Associate Principal Second Violin for Tulsa Opera and plays with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. He has also done work for major studios in film, television and commercials. 

Ivory is a cellist and graduate of The University of Tulsa with a degree in Instrumental Music Education. A member of Union Middle School Orchestra Department, Ivory also performs with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas, the Bartlesville Symphony Orchestra, and the Tulsa Signature Symphony.

Since 2003, the has been an independent organization, receiving substantial support from the Albert and Hete Barthelmes Foundation. Students, parents and staff work hard to raise funds through various fund drives and concert ticket sales. holds auditions in May for the season beginning the following September.

graduates have gone on to attend The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, the Cleveland Institute, Harvard University, Cincinnati College-Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Stanford and other competitive schools.

alumni have performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony San Francisco Symphony, and National Symphony. Others serve, and have served as deans, and in faculty positions at colleges and universities across the country.

Tulsa Youth Symphony 2018 Fall Concert
The 2018 season opens with its Fall Concert, Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at the Union High School , 6636 S. Mingo Road in Tulsa. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger and seniors 60 and older. Tickets are available for purchase at the door the evening of the concert. Seating is general admission.

For more information about Tulsa Youth Symphony, visit tyso.org or call 918-592-7725.

Updated 11-27-2018

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