The Greater Miami Youth Symphony was created in 1958 by Robert Strassburg in order to provide an independent, complementary program to music education in the schools. Three years later, Strassburg’s Orchestra completed a concert tour of Colombia in a cultural exchange program entitled “Youth for Youth”. In November of 1972, the Orchestra was officially renamed the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, and became a Florida non-profit corporation.
Today, the Greater Miami Youth Symphony is an inclusive year-round, multi-tiered music training program consisting of over 600 students ranging in age from 5 to 18. GMYS is served by a full-time Executive Director, Matthew Sheary, and Operations Manager, Daniela Santana, as well as other administrative and artistic support, led by Artistic Director, Hui Fang Chen. GMYS offers beginning music classes on most instruments of the modern orchestra, as well as large ensembles which include 4 orchestras, 2 wind bands, and 2 jazz bands. GMYS also boasts numerous small chamber groups including jazz combos which perform throughout Miami Dade County and a thriving summer camp program in 3 locations.
GMYS is operated by a volunteer board of directors and a staff consisting of Executive Director, Operations Manager, Bookkeeper, and 2 ensemble managers. Artistic Director Huifang Chen has led the flagship Symphony Orchestra to a high level of excellence. All of the Artistic staff have at least a Bachelor’s Degree with several having masters or higher. A significant portion of our staff has been trained by UM-NSU Card, Advocacy Networks on Disabilities and Autism Speaks to best serve our population of students with special needs.
In recent years, GMYS students have composed upwards of 40% of the New World Symphony Side-by-Side Orchestra. 25 students were accepted to the 2018 Florida All-State Festival, 25 for the Miami-Dade Honors Middle Orchestra, and 22 for the Miami-Dade Honors Elementary Orchestra. In addition, over the last 9 seasons, 100% of GMYS’s graduates have gone on to college, many with scholarships. It’s not unusual for students to have picked up an instrument for the first time in one of GMYS’s preparatory programs and to remain in the GMYS family until they graduate as seniors from the symphony orchestra.
GMYS has many successful alumni, a notable example being Dr. Daniel Andai, currently the Dean at New World School of the Arts. In a recent interview with Dr. Andai he remarked, “GMYS has an important role to play in Miami. Years ago, it cultivated a tradition of community and education, which it strives to maintain to this day.” Recently GMYS performed once again with the Piano Guys, at Ocean Reef. GMYS has performed at the Miami Cancer Institute, The Jewish Museum of South Florida, Pinecrest Gardens, South Dade High School and the Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center.
GMYS Jazz Band performed at Zoo Lights Miami. Legendary Latin Grammy award winning saxophonist Dr. Ed Calle has been on faculty at our summer Jazz Intensive program and will be returning again this coming 2019 summer. Rising star Tommy Mesa, a GMYS alum, performed a cello concerto with our Symphony in December, and UM faculty violinist Charles Castleman will solo with the Symphony in May.
Since 2010, in partnership with the Alhambra Orchestra has presented a free Halloween multimedia spectacular, attracting thousands of children, sponsored by the Children’s Trust. In addition to Spooky Symphony, our students have participated in an annual Side-by-Side performance with the FIU Symphony Orchestra and select students are participating in the Miami International Academy of Double Bass. We have sponsorships and affiliations with The Miami Cancer Institute, Ocean Reef Foundation, and several Miami-Dade Public & Charter Schools. GMYS is sponsoring a graduate fellow from the FIU School of music who conducts our Young Mozart ensemble, preparatory violin classes and multiple chamber groups. We will again present an Autism Awareness concert at Pinecrest Gardens with support from Autism Speaks and UM-NSU Card. GMYS will participate once again at the All Kids Included Festival at the South Dade Cultural Arts Center. We continue to seek new ways to include more children and bring our programs to more members of our community.
GMYS provides culturally diverse programming throughout the county in collaboration with many neighborhood and community organizations, including local churches, parks, libraries, youth centers, and senior centers. We have presented collaboration concerts with Alhambra Orchestra, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, Roxy Theatre, Arts for Learning, and various youth orchestras, bringing artists and audiences from different ages and cultural backgrounds together for exciting musical performances. GMYS also participates with the UM Frost School of Music in a mentoring program (MusicReach) that pairs university music students with youth orchestra members to meet in weekly instructional sessions.