GMYS Timeline: View here
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, Jessica Munch-Dittmar, and Marketing and Operations Coordinator, Michelle Sanchez, 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, Marketing and Operations Coordinator, Bookkeeper, Data Manager, Homestead Coordinator 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 the Advocacy Networks on Disabilities 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 10 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.
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 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.