The Anchorage Youth Symphony (AYS) is a youth orchestra founded in 1965 and located in Anchorage, Alaska. The AYS provides orchestral performance experience for young musicians, and furthers musicianship of members through rehearsals, concerts, education, tours, and community involvement. The AYS performs at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.
Performances from the 2009 Australia Tour available online include:Kabalevsky, Poulenc 1st thru 6th movements, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 4th movement. (AYS was joined by a Mass Choir for the Poulenc and Beethoven) - Sydney Opera House, July 12, 2009.
Rimsky-Korsakov - Angel Place, Sydney Australia
Hanson - Angel Place, Sydney Australia
In February 2008, AYS performed the premiere orchestral performance Kathleen Bielawski's The Thoughtful Bird
In December 2008, AYS performed composer Philip Munger's Memorial to maestro Gordon Wright, "Sinfonietta"
Early forerunners of what became known as the Anchorage Youth Symphony were organized and conducted by local musicians and educators as Kurt Pasch, Jean (Ray) Bruhn, Charles Gorsuch, and Marlow Thomas. The orchestra from this earliest period drew from the young musicians being trained in the Anchorage Schools, and gave concerts throughout the city.
In 1965, the Anchorage School District hired Frank Pinkerton as its director of music, who formally organized the Youth Symphony. As the School District music program grew, so developed the Youth Symphony. Later, the Elementary Honor Orchestra and Band, as well as the Junior High Honor Orchestra were added to the district's program. As of 2009, they are still funded and associated with the school district, whereas the Anchorage Youth Symphony is now an independent organization, governed by a board of directors. Pinkerton retired in 1978.
Dewey Ehling replaced Frank Pinkerton as music director of both the School District and the Youth Symphony. For the next eight years until his retirement in 1986, he expanded the touring schedule, traveling and performing in Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. Domestically, the orchestra performed in Washington state, California, and Washington D.C.
Linn Weeda, who was a graduate of the Youth Symphony in those early years, led the orchestra in 1986 and 1987. The orchestra toured and performed in New York City at Lincoln Center during his tenure.
In 1988, John Duff of Fairbanks led the orchestra. During his tenure, the orchestra toured to Scotland. Russell Guyver, a professor of music at University of Alaska Anchorage, succeeded him in 1991. Guyver instituted a series of retreats to encourage the social interaction of members, as well as concerts in the Matanuska Valley.
Linn Weeda was again engaged to be the music director in 1992, and continues in that position. The orchestra's program has expanded to include coaching by local professional musicians (many of whom were in the Youth Symphony as young players), recording projects, a chamber music series, a chamber orchestra, an alumni association, and scholarships. Master classes are given by visiting artists from the Anchorage Concert Association, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, and the Sitka Summer Music Festival.
AYS works to strengthen the performance abilities of its members and the music community throughout Alaska by collaborating with school music programs and with other music and arts groups. AYS provides members with professional direction, coaching, and repertoire.
Many AYS members honed their performance experience as members of Anchorage Junior Youth Symphony. (Some AYS members concurrently perform with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.)
Group tours over the years have included Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Washington D.C., Washington state, California, and New York, as well as locations throughout Alaska.
The AYS Music Director/Conductor is Linn Weeda, who studied trumpet with Armando Ghitalla and Roger Voisin and performs with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra.