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Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble Awarded First Place in Austria’s Premier Global Youth Music Festival

Orange County, Calif. — July 18, 2017

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble in Austria

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, which recently completed a European tour, was awarded first place in the symphonic band division of the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival and Competition in Vienna. The Wind Ensemble, performing under the baton of its Music Director Gregory X. Whitmore, joined 34 other ensembles from around the world for the festival, held July 7–12, and shares the first place award with the Osaka High School Symphonic Band of Japan. Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble was one of only three U.S. ensembles to travel to Austria for the festival and the only ensemble representing the western region of the United States.

Now in its eleventh year, the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival has become one of the most prestigious youth festivals in the world, bringing together the very best youth orchestras, choirs and bands from 13 countries and five continents for five days of fulfilling music-making in Vienna. While at the festival, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble not only participated in Summa Cum Laude Festival’s prestigious competition held in the famed Golden Hall of the Musikverein, but also attended interactive workshops and educational lectures conducted by members of the festival’s orchestra jury at the University of Music in Vienna.

“We’re proud of the accomplishments of Pacific Symphony’s Youth Wind Ensemble. Under the outstanding leadership of conductor and educator, Gregory Whitmore, they have proven that Orange County has tremendous talent and can rival their peers from around the world. Competitions, however, are only one benchmark for the Symphony’s instrumental training program. Above all, we want students fall in love with making music together, deepen their knowledge of the range and depth of music, and inspire their curiosity for lifelong learning. Through training by Pacific Symphony Musicians, Carl St.Clair, and the terrific conducting team, the students of the Youth Ensembles program played in Vienna on the most hallowed stages, and left a very positive impression. No doubt, these are young people who will win chairs in prestigious orchestral institutions as well as be leaders in society. Their joy, energy and brilliance are infectious!” says Pacific Symphony president, John Forsyte. He also added, “Without the leadership of Elizabeth Stahr, Chair of the Youth Ensembles Board, the incredible donors who subsidized scholarships for the students to travel abroad, the amazing parents who commit and sacrifice to advance these young scholars, and our hard-working staff, these immense achievements would not occur. We are truly grateful to all of them.”

Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble performed in the 2017 Gala Winners’ Concert at the Great Hall of the Wiener Konzerthaus on July 11, followed by an awards ceremony and reception held at Vienna’s Hofburg Imperial Palace which houses the office of the President of Austria and where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs during High Mass on Sundays.

“The whole experience has been amazing!” commented Maestro Whitmore. “This tour was the culmination of a two-year process of planning, discussions and meetings. I’m so excited that the students have had the opportunity to perform and experience Salzburg and Vienna. My hopes and dreams for the students have been that they not only have the life-changing opportunity to play in the home of classical music, but have also been able to immerse themselves in the cultural experiences. If the students come back changed for the better, having broadened their horizons—we have succeeded!”

In addition to performing at the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival Gala Winners’ Concert, PSYWE’s 2017 European tour included performances in the Stadtsaal in Groß-Siegharts, the Golden Hall of the Musikverein, the Wiener Konzerthaus and the MuTh, Vienna’s new venue for music and theatre built for the Vienna Boys’ Choir in 2012.

About the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival and Competition

The first Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival was hosted in July 2007. Already during its first year, it realized its two main objectives: to provide a unique platform for the world’s most talented youth choirs, bands and orchestras to perform in Vienna’s magnificent Musikverein and to set new standards in the festival arena. The SCL Festival has gained the broad support of the Austrian public and of many national and international decision makers in the field of politics and culture. Close ties have also been established to foreign embassies and international organizations to make this a truly international event. Performing groups may compete with their peers in the “Summa Cum Laude Competition” or they may opt to participate in the non-competitive “Summa Cum Laude Celebration.”

About Pacific Symphony Wind Ensemble (PSYWE)

Established in 2007, Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (PSYWE) started under the direction of Michael J. Corrigan, the well-known music educator and recipient of the “Band Educator of the Year" award from the California Music Educators Association, with support from Larry Woody and the Woody Youth Fund. In 2009, Joshua Roach, of the Thornton School of Music at USC, was appointed music director. Under Roach’s direction and unique enthusiasm, and with the artistic direction of Pacific Symphony’s renowned music director, Carl St.Clair, PSYWE quickly became the premier Youth Wind Ensemble in Orange County. 2014-15 marked the inaugural season of current Music Director Gregory X. Whitmore.

Representing 22 schools in and beyond Orange County, PSYWE offers performance opportunities to instrumentalists in grades 8-12 and is one of three Youth Ensemble programs offered by Pacific Symphony. PSYWE provides members with a high-quality and innovative artistic experience and strives to encourage music and personal growth through the art of performance. Each season students enjoy an interaction with Maestro Carl St.Clair, as well as regular interactions with guest artists and professional musicians of Pacific Symphony. Students also engage in an annual weekend retreat and are offered free and discounted tickets to Pacific Symphony performances throughout the season.

Each season, PSYWE presents a three-concert series. Performances are presented at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts as well as other high-quality community venues in Orange County.