In 1986, Hill Country Youth Orchestras founder Lynda Ables, Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Kerrville, Texas, began a journey to fulfill a dream — her five year old daughter who was in kindergarten said that she wanted to learn to play the violin.
At that time, there were no string teachers in Kerrville so Mrs. Ables arranged for a demonstration of the Suzuki teaching method by a group from Austin.Following that demonstration, a Suzuki program was started in Kerrville with eight students and instructor Jane Heard of Fredericksburg.As the teaching program grew, Kerrville First Methodist United Church agreed to include the Suzuki program as an outreach ministry through the music department and provide teaching space for the group at no charge to the program.Through a generous donation from Mary Rohe of Hunt, Texas, funds were made available for the purchase of instruments for students, music and the cost of private lessons for the students so any child who wished to participate could, regardless of economic means.
Hill Country Youth Orchestras, Inc. (HCYO) was organized as a result of the Suzuki String Program in Kerrville, Texas, begun in 1987, and incorporated February 24, 1999, as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
HCYO is the only tuition-free orchestra program in the country.HCYO is open to all children of the Texas Hill Country regardless of race, color, creed, disability, or economic status.Additionally,HCYO offers scholarship assistance for private lessons, low-cost string instrument rentals and performance uniforms for all participants.
The HCYO mission is to “bring the joy of the orchestra experience to the youth of the Texas Hill Country” with the vision to nurture, encourage and assist young musicians by sharing the love and joy of music through quality instruction, concert performances, and community service. The core HCYO belief is unlimited and early exposure to music fosters lifelong recognition of its value and instills life skills, development of leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and discipline.
In the 30 years since the Suzuki String Program began, HCYO has grown from 8 string students and 1 orchestra to 110 string students, 30 woodwind/brass/percussion students and 7 orchestras.
Today HCYO paid staff includes 7 professional faculty members as conductors and WBP (woodwind, brass, percussion) specialists, an executive director and an operations/office assistant.The 2016-2017 Season of HCYO marked the formation of a satellite campus in Fredericksburg in addition to the main HCYO campus in Kerrville as the program continues to grow in the Texas Hill Country.
HCYO is committed to providing a quality music education program and orchestra performance experience for its students.HCYO’s music faculty provides professional instruction and mentoring for young musicians through weekly rehearsals, private lessons and participation in 2 annual public concerts at the Kathleen C. Cailloux Theater for the Performing Arts in Kerrville, Texas, which are given at no charge to the public.Weekly rehearsals are held from September through May.In preparation for each concert season, students are required to attend the HCYO String Camp each August, which is an intensive four hour per day string immersion experience.HCYO students have played as part of the Robert Earl Keen Concert in Kerrville for 10 years.
DREAMS DO COME TRUE The little girl who wanted to learn to play the violin 30 years ago received her Ph.D in Musicology from Indiana University in 2016.She still plays her violin and the program that her dream started has benefitted thousands of young musicians.
Many HCYO alumni have received academic and music scholarships to Harvard University, Mercer String Artist Academy, Rice University, Indiana University, and Baylor University to name a few and have gone on to pursue professional music careers.Of equal importance are the more than a thousand students who have had their lives enriched by learning to play, perform and share music at a high level. The benefits of music study for children is well documented. They are the supporters of classical music and audiences of the future.
Advanced HCYO students have been invited to perform with the Symphony of the Hills guest performances and side-by-side concerts, the San Antonio Symphony, combined concert with Youth Orchestra of San Antonio, the National Youth Orchestra, featured performance as part of the Fredericksburg Performing Arts Society concert season, and numerous summer music festivals such as Cactus Pear Young Artist Program, Eastern Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Interlochen Music Festival, Idlewild Music Fest, Fredericksburg Music Society and participate in Master Classes with Camerata San Antonio.Each year, select HCYO students participate in the extensive audition process and are selected for the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra and regional orchestra. HCYO students are invited to play with the house orchestras for Hill Country Arts Foundation Point Theater productions and Playhouse 2000 productions.The full HCYO orchestras perform concerts annually at the Kathleen C. Cailloux Performing Arts Theater which are free and open to the public as a “thank you” for the community support of the orchestras.
HCYO BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ADVISORY BOARD, AND BOOSTERS HCYO Board of Directors is responsible for establishing operational policies, overseeing fund raising, and strategic planning.
HCYO Advisory Board serves as ambassadors for HCYO within the community and assists the Board of Directors with special projects.Members of the HCYO Advisory Board are prominent leaders and professionals in the community.
HCYO Friends & Family (formerly known as Boosters) was organized to create the opportunity for student parents and volunteers to support the efforts of HCYO by assisting with various HCYO activities throughout the year.
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Phone: 830-285-9781 321 Thompson Dr. Kerrville, Tx 78028