Photos courtesy of the Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory

Moments from the Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory’s youth orchestra program that served the Sacramento region.

A new youth orchestra is holding auditions in Elk Grove, and it plans to give music students a professional-level experience in performances and individualized training.

The Elk Grove Youth Symphony Orchestra (EGYSO) is one of three ensembles created this year by Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory (SPAC). The organization previously ran an orchestra that included children from across the Sacramento area and has served Elk Grove students for 16 years.

COVID-19 restrictions have prompted SPAC to try a new format, starting smaller orchestras in Rancho Cordova, Sacramento, and Elk Grove.

The EGYSO can accommodate up to 200 kids, and tuition is free. There is a $100-per-student registration fee.

Students will be coached by musicians from the Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera and work with a rotating roster of conductors, features that EGYSO Community Engagement Manager Clara Litman said help the students improve their technical skills.

She expressed excitement about the return to in-person rehearsal. The smaller orchestra size and health protocols like regular hand sanitizing have allowed SPAC to move away from Zoom practice.

“With music, you have to be together, to play together, to feel the music together, to experience the music together,” Litman said. And demonstrating how to play instruments over teleconference has proved a challenge.

The Elk Grove orchestra will be a new experience for many children, according to Litman. Rehearsals take place on Saturdays from September to May, with four hours of rehearsal broken up by breaks for snacks or lunch.

Next April, the orchestra will perform with two “child prodigies,” Philip Amadeus and Laetitia Hahn. The German brother and sister will play piano as guest artists. The orchestra will also perform pop songs in the summer.

The children will learn full symphonies, not just a movement.

“Kids are excited because a lot of them have never had this experience before. I mean, they play in the orchestra and stuff, but they’ve never played with youth international concert artists,” Litman said.

Jaiden Barredo and Jessica Vogt have participated in SPAC’s orchestra program for six years, both as violinists. The Elk Grove siblings face challenges as they train with their instruments, said Jaiden, 13, but “we learn from those mistakes, and as we learn from those mistakes, we learn new skills.”

Jaiden recalled a time when the orchestra performed at a senior living community, saying that “it made us feel good to make other people happy” with the melodies and harmonies of the music.

Jessica, 12, said she had been very shy before taking up the violin.

“But then, when I went to violin class, I had to play with other students, too, so I had to make friends, and it just really made me more confident with talking and playing music at the same time,” Jessica said.

She noted that if children are interested in doing something, they should “never let anyone or anything stop them. Just do what they want to do, and maybe someday they might learn something out of it.”

EGYSO Auditions consist of a 10-minute Zoom interview to determine the applicant’s level for placement. An applicant should be at least Suzuki book level 3 with their instrument, roughly equivalent to three years of study.

For more information, visit the Sacramento Performing Arts Conservatory Facebook page. To receive the application form, contact Clara Litman by email at clara.spac@live.com or by text at (916) 308-2307.