Stream now, Tune into RETN this Friday!

See broadcasts of the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s thrilling first installment of “Tchaikovsky in Vermont,” their 2017-2018 exploration of Piotr I. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. This VYO Fall Concert, the first under the direction of new music director Dr. Benjamin Klemme, was performed at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on September 24, 2017 and features the world premiere of a new poem by Sydney Lea, former Vermont poet laureate, and a stirring solo flute performance by Israel Patterson. Filming and broadcasting of VYO subscription performances are made possible by the generous media partnership of RETN—please join the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association in thanking them for their support!

*This show will premiere on RETN Channel 16 and BTVHD Channel 216 on Friday, October 20th at 9:00 PM. Additional air times will be posted online as they are scheduled.

In addition, audio of this performance is now available for streaming and download through Instant Encore by clicking here

September’s From the Podium: A message from our Music Director

This past Sunday fifteen 2nd-through-5th graders gathered at Elley-Long Music Center and became orchestral musicians as the first members of the VYOA’s new year-long beginner string ensemble program: Prelude! Having had no previous string-playing experience, they were introduced to their conductor, given instruments, and even played their first orchestral piece together. Meanwhile, the Vermont Youth Orchestra was down the hall rehearsing Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony in preparation for their first subscription concert of the season. This concurrent display of the range of music learning opportunities available to young Vermonters through our weekly programming was mirrored chorally when, later in the week, members of the Vermont Youth Chorus and Chorale invited friends to attend Bring a Friend Night. Our middle and high school guests explored great repertoire alongside peers with shared musical interests and under the expert guidance of the VYOA’s passionate vocal educators. Thank you for supporting the VYOA, and for helping us spread the word as we work together to inspire every child to fill our world with music.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Vermont Youth Philharmonia Fall Concert on September 23 at Elley-Long, and the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s first installment of “Tchaikovsky in Vermont” at the Flynn on September 24.

Benjamin Klemme
Music Director

August’s From the Podium: A message from our Music Director


As summer nears its end and another school year approaches, our instrumental and vocal ensembles have been busy kicking off the VYOA’s 54th season. The Elley-Long Music Center is once again filled with the energy and talent of our incredible students, and we invite you to join us for what promises to be a uniquely inspiring year.

There are many ways to get involved with the exciting musical discovery happening at the VYOA: follow us on social media @VYOAorg, visit a rehearsal, attend a concert, volunteer at one of our many events, and—if you play an instrument—plan to join us for a special community-wide play-along of the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony on April 29. Thank you for supporting life-changing music learning opportunities for young Vermonters. Without your partnership our programming would not be possible, and we look forward to celebrating our students’ artistic achievements with you throughout the 2017-2018 season.

Join us for Tchaikovsky in Vermont!
Benjamin Klemme
Music Director


Billy Ray Poli Joins the VYOA!

Billy Ray Poli has been named Conductor of the Vermont Youth Chorale. Billy Ray is currently the Choral/Vocal director at Burlington High School. He conducts the Concert Chorus, Senior Chorus and Vermont Voices, Burlington High School’s select auditioned group. He also teaches Intro level Piano,Theory and AP Music Theory. Billy Ray graduated from the University of Rhode Island as a double major in both vocal performance and music education. During his time in Rhode Island he competed both at the state, and regional level, and performed as a guest performer in many of Opera Providence’s productions. Billy Ray moved to Vermont in summer of 2013 and began his teaching career at Chelsea Public School, where he taught K-12 Music, created and fostered an award winning after school theater program, and also implemented an in school private lesson program under the Steve Ibey Scholarship fund. Since being in Vermont he has been the music director for many different theater companies including; Chandler Music Hall’s Fourth of July Musical, Flynn Teen Summer Musicals, Burlington High School Musicals, South Royalton Players and is looking forward to conducting his first show for the Stowe Theatre Guild in the summer of 2017. He also sits on the board of ACDA as the Chair for Jazz and Show Choirs, and was just named District III Chair. Billy Ray is a frequent adjudicator, clinician, voice teacher and guest conductor at many choral festival in and around the state of Vermont.

Welcome Billy Ray!

Coming this Fall: Prelude!

Click here to read the May e-newsletter, which celebrates the end of this season and looks forward to next season. We’re especially excited to unveil Prelude! a brand new beginner strings program. Also read up on the success of the online auction, our upcoming annual meeting, vocal programs, and Summer Symphony Camp.


VYO Senior Spotlight!

Nate Gunter, bass trombone
BFA St. Albans High School
Joined VYOA in 2012
VYO – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year
Sinfonia – 1 year

What do you love about playing your instrument? 
I love the way it can take me away from my stresses and problems, if only for an hour or two.

What has been the most memorable piece that you performed/had with VYO?
Dvorak’s New World Symphony was my favorite piece we ever played.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?
Gaining the ability to play the famous trombone excerpt from the William Tell Overture.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I’m on the golf team.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
I would perform with Trombone Shorty, he seems like a lot of fun.

What are your plans after graduation?
To attend the Crane School of Music and get a degree in Music Education.

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Abba Weimer, clarinet
Champlain Valley Union High School
Joined VYOA in 2016
VYO – 1 year





What do you love about playing your instrument?
Playing clarinet is like an escape from the outside pressures of reality. Whenever a difficult piece or a lovely melodic passage comes along, there is a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction when played as perfectly as possible.

What has been the most memorable experience that you had with VYO?
This was my first year as part of the VYOA family, and Reveille was the highlight. Working hard for hours each day was fun.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?
This year I was the only clarinetist from Vermont accepted in the All-Eastern Orchestra. Participating in an honours orchestra was an amazing experience where I felt like we were being treated as professionals because everyone acted on their best behaviour and came prepared.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
I’m involved in soccer year round. I am also working at the Shelburne Museum (gift store and carousel).

What are your plans after graduation?
I will be attending Skidmore College where I will be playing soccer and continuing clarinet while studying physics.

VYO Senior Spotlight!

Neil Hutcheon, trombone
Essex High School
Joined VYOA in 2013
VYO – 2 years
Vermont Youth Philharmonia – 2 years




What do you love about playing your instrument? 
Trombone is a great instrument for me since I love really brassy, awesome music (or maybe I like that music because I play trombone) and trombone always gets the most powerful fanfares in that sort of music. Also, it is a very versatile instrument and can be played in a large array of music genres.

What has been the most memorable experience that you have had with VYO?
My most memorable piece was probably the Bacchanal from Samson and Delilah. I was playing the bass trombone part and at the end of that piece I pretty much just got to play as loud as I could and it was an absolute blast. Also, the tour to Iceland [in 2015] was amazing and I wouldn’t have made some of the great friends that I still have today.

What would you like to change about the classical music world?
If I could change classical music I would change people’s mind set about it. I think people need to realize that it’s so much more than just a fancy night out for rich retirees. It’s such an expansive genre that once you explore deeper into it anybody can find a composer or piece that they like and can relate to.

What was your biggest musical breakthrough?
My biggest breakthrough was last summer when I was playing the Debussy Nocturnes and the brass section was told that we were playing together but separate. We were asked to listen to the other sections in the orchestra rather than just our own. This realization not only made me listen to the other sections more but also to myself. It really improved my playing stylistically and my intonation.

What other sports/groups/activities are you involved in?
In the winter I am captain of our Varsity Nordic Skiing team but in the other seasons I play as much music as I can, including pit orchestras, jazz band (both in school and outside) and I also play with a fusion combo called the Nomads.

If you could perform with any musician, living or dead, who would it be & why?
This is a hard question because it probably changes every week for me but as of now I would love to play with Vic Wooten. Vic’s playing inspires me to get better even though he doesn’t play trombone, I would just love to get as good at extended techniques as he has. I think his mastery of the bass is what many musicians should strive for. I also think he would be great to jam with because he’s a super nice guy.

What are your plans after graduation?
Next year I’m planning on attending St Olaf college in Minnesota to double major in both music and computer science.