Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!

Ethan Hall, trombone
Mount Mansfield Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 1 year



How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

In 5th grade I couldn’t decide between trumpet and trombone, and my band teacher wanted more trombones: she said I have “long arms and big lips” and I was suited to trombone. I still want to learn trumpet and saxophone at some point down the road.


What role does music play in your life?

Around 8th grade, I started to focus on music more as a central part of my life instead of just another thing I did sometimes. Singing in the chorus at NEMFA last year changed my life, and the friendships I have formed in VYO and at all of the festivals are some of the closest friends I have. There is something about making music with others that is much more special than anything else I do in school.


What was your biggest musical challenge & how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge is an ongoing one, which is finding time to practice. Between working after school, trombone lessons, evening chorus rehearsals, theater, and oh yeah, homework, finding the time to pull out my instrument every day is really difficult. Some nights I get home late and I have to force myself to play even for just 20 minutes. As someone who loves to do as many different activities as possible, practicing consistently is really difficult.


What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Keep pushing yourself. When you have a lull in between concerts or auditions, it’s really easy to blow off practice. Keep practicing and improving, because it will pay off. Additionally, learn a second instrument! Learn to sing! Teaching myself piano and singing in school choirs have taught me so much more about music, and helped me make connections between different techniques and styles. The more time you spend with music, the better your musicianship will be.


What is your favorite VYOA memory?

My first year in the VYOA I was as a member of VYP my sophomore year. I knew maybe three people when I walked into my first rehearsal, and I had no idea what to expect. The friends I made during breaks in my first two days are some of the nicest people I know. On the Spain and Portugal trip, I got to spend a lot of time with some members of the VYOA who I hadn’t met before. Playing cards in a shady park our first day in Madrid with Anna, David, and Grant is definitely another favorite memory.


Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do other genres influence what you hear in orchestral music?

I love listening to music where the lyrics and harmonic composition equally influence the meaning of the song. I enjoy everything from Billy Joel and Elton John to Queen, Pentatonix, Ben Rector, and Watsky.


What other activities do you participate in?

I do band and chorus at school, I run the sound system for theater productions, and I work a few days a week at the afterschool program at a nearby elementary school.


What college or university do you plan or hope to attend next year?

My top choice school is Temple University, where I would major in Music Education and possibly do a second major in Composition.


If you know, what do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

I’ve known since I started high school that I want to be a music teacher, and more recently (in the past year or so) I’ve discovered a love for writing music also.


Congratulations Ethan! We will miss your steadfast presence & positive attitude but look forward to seeing what your future contributions to the world of music education will bring!

Class of 2020 Senior Spotlight!


Abigail Grimm, cello
Burlington High

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year







Ines Horozovic, cello
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years







How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

Grimm: I had played violin when I was younger and didn’t like it. When I was given the option of string lessons through my school, viola seemed too similar. Cello was unique and I liked how it was quite literally as tall as I was.

Horozovic: Everybody else chose the violin, and honestly, I wanted to sit!


What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Horozovic: Getting to know the other cellists in my section is the best!


What role does music play in your life?

Grimm: I have met my greatest friends through music and it has been a platform for me to expand my skills, both musically and otherwise. Music has been a defining feature for more than half my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Grimm: Do what you love and what brings you joy. The hard work you put in doesn’t stop, but it continues to pay off.

Horozovic: Don’t always be so serious! Sightread with friends for the fun of it, learn to laugh at yourself, and breathe.


What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

Horozovic: Cello double concertos and more female composers!

Grimm: I would like to see an orchestral world where success is redefined and musicians are valued for what they uniquely bring to the music. Too often we are limited by predetermined standards and expectations, when in reality every person has worked incredibly hard to get where they are and has something to share.


What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Grimm: While I was touring in Spain & Portugal, we performed in a variety of venues. Some were large concert halls while others were intimate recital spaces. In Alba de Tormes, we performed in a cathedral with vast vaulted ceilings and a few rows of small wooden pews. While we played, the orchestra was on the same level as the audience. There was no stage or blinding lights. The audience was sitting 5 ft away from me and I could see their faces react to the music. Seeing a young boy’s face light up when recognizing the first few notes of a Jurassic Park medley is one of the best feelings I as a musician could have. The orchestra played the best we had and when we closed with Schubert’s 8th Symphony the energy in the room was vibrant and buzzing. That performance was one I will never forget.

Horozovic: Reveille 2018. My friends and I tried to convince Dr. Klemme to dance in the middle of one of our pieces during the concert. He juggled instead, which was no less amusing.


Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? 

Horozovic: I listen to a lot of rap but nothing comes close to matching my obsession with chamber music. Rachmaninoff’s Trio Elegiaque No. 1 was the first piece I really fell in love with, and many others have followed. Playing chamber music requires a high degree of adaptability and sensitivity, and I’m always left in awe by the sound a small group of musicians is able to achieve.


If you know, what do you plan to study in college and how did you make your choice?

Horozovic: Education and social policy. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for student-centered learning and education reform!


Congratulations Abby & Ines! We have enjoyed having you as members of our orchestras for the past 5 years & thank you for your musical contributions to the VYOA!

Standing Ovation: Mike Noble

This June marked Mike Noble’s last VYOA Board meeting after nearly a decade of service to the organization, but don’t worry. We will still see Mike backstage at the Flynn on concert days helping Art unload the truck and set the stage. From helping tune VYS celli to leading a national search for our Executive Director, Mike has worn many hats at the VYOA, and we are so grateful for his support, leadership, and service.

Q. When and why did you first get involved with the VYOA?

A. I have been associated in one way or another with the VYOA since 2001 when my daughter started playing with the Vermont Youth Strings. David Gusakov was leading that group and he let me tune the cellos for him at the start of the rehearsals to shorten the preparation time. It was fun!


Q. Tell us about when, why and how you became a Board member.

A. I have been a Board member since 2010. John Pacht asked me to join the Board and, after a little hesitation, I did. Little did I know what a rewarding adventure it would be. I am proud to have led the search committee that found and hired Executive Director Rosina Cannizzaro.


Q. What’s the future of the VYOA? Where do you see the organization in 5-10 years?

A. I hope to see the VYOA’s access programs, such as Music Inspires, grow and grow. What a valuable addition to our community and the state! I also hope that the recognition and great reputation the VYOA has received at the national level within the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras continues.


Q. Why do you think music is an important part of a young person’s growth & development?

A. Music provides goals, teaches discipline, and shows students that hard work can produce a wonderful sense of accomplishment and teamwork. I think that’s pretty valuable.


Art DeQuasie Celebrates 20 Years at the VYOA!



This July, Art will be celebrating 20 years at the VYOA. Who knew that stepping on the Seven Days classified ad for a part-time VYP manager position would lead to an amazing career serving thousands of young musicians throughout the years?!

Art wears many hats as the Director of Operations. In addition to his regular duties as the manager of multiple orchestras he has also stepped in to accompany various ensembles on celeste, piano, and double bass. It wouldn’t be Halloween here without a special VYO jack-o-lantern carved by yours truly. Art is also responsible for a lot of the nitty gritty details to make International and domestic tours possible. He’s worked on VYO tours to China, France/Quebec, Germany/Prague, Iceland, and this year will go to Spain/Portugal. Locally, he’s facilitated VYP exchange programs with Empire State Youth Orchestra as well as in Sherbrooke, Quebec and Springfield, MA. He also makes it possible for VYOA students to participate in the New England Music Festival by going as a chaperone for those sponsored by the VYOA. He’s the mastermind behind audition and sectional scheduling.

In his time here, Art has worked with four Music Directors and two interim VYO conductors as well as a number of other amazing artistic staff. I think all would tell you that he is a joy to work with – a monument to his professionalism and amiable personality. While he always gets the job done, Art is no stranger to some good old-fashioned fun. There’s never a doubt that he can be found driving go-karts, playing laser tag and kickball, and getting wrapped in toilet paper as part of season kick-off activities for our musicians. 

Art is definitely the calm collected person you can turn to if you need your car jump started in the winter or have an instrument emergency on concert day. No matter what the circumstance, he always manages to stay calm and find a solution. Before moving into Elley-Long, Art could be seen bouncing back & forth between different ensembles’ rehearsals and Burlington and South Burlington High Schools – something anyone else would have been completely frantic doing.

We could go on and on about Art’s amazing accomplishments here at the VYOA because there are so many. We are so fortunate to have someone that is so committed, knowledgeable, and personable. We are compiling a scrapbook for this big milestone in Art’s career and are accepting submissions of photos, memories, and well wishes until June 1, 2019. Please email to contribute. 

Thanks, Art! Here’s to another 20 years!

Standing Ovation: Anne S. Brown

Anne Brown has been a friend of the VYOA for nearly five decades and wears many hats. You may recognize her as a longtime local cello teacher and VYOA cello section coach, but she is also an alumni parent and donor. Alongside her most recent gift she told the story that inspired it:

Anne’s cello student was on the verge of quitting cello. He didn’t participate in any groups and didn’t seem interested in joining any until Vermont Youth Strings (VYS) played at the Shelburne Community School this past April. This student saw one of his close friends in the cello section and he now wants to audition for VYS. In Anne’s words, “What a turnaround!! The impact of your (VYOA) playing in the schools really came home to me!”

We were so glad to hear this success story that we decided to catch up with Anne and give her a virtual standing ovation this month. Thanks for all that you do for the VYOA – from inspiring young cellists to being a longtime donor and everything in between – we are so grateful!


Q. When and why did you first become involved with the VYOA?

A. My involvement with the VYOA started in the early 1970s, when I took my three-year-old daughter, Heather, to the concerts at St. Paul’s Cathedral when the orchestra was led by Peter Brown. A few years later, she joined the String Training Orchestra as a violist, and went on to play in the VYO  (during the years when Soovin Kim and Alex Ezerman were in it) until she graduated from high school in 1989. She has wonderful memories of her experiences in the VYO. Since starting to teach cello in 1995, I have always encouraged my students to play in the various orchestras. More recently, my involvement also includes coaching cello sectionals of the VYS, VYP, and the VYO. I love having these connections with young families and with the VYOA!


Q. How has the organization changed over the years?

A. The VYO was the brainchild of the Burlington Friends of Music for Youth. Two of the prime movers that I recall from that era were Janet Rood and Lynn Alexander. When my daughter joined the STO, they rehearsed in South Hall, on the UVM Redstone Campus. When she was in the VYO, that orchestra rehearsed at Burlington High School, as the VYOA still had no permanent home.

Somewhere along the line, the name changed from Burlington Friends of Music for Youth to the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association, and they added PRESTO (Pre-String Training Orchestra), changed STO to Vermont Youth Strings, and added Sinfonia and Philharmonia. Of course the biggest boost was acquiring a permanent home, the Elley-Long Music Center, thanks to a huge donation by Carolyn Long!

Now there are Rug Concerts, private lessons, and various ensembles, including brass and woodwinds. School tours are also a big part of the outreach program. It’s heartwarming to see the growth of this wonderful organization!


Q. What inspires you to support the VYOA?

A. Growing up with classical musician parents, I started cello so I could be part of our family quartet. Soon I joined the orchestra (and band on trombone) in elementary school and then high school. Also while in high school, I was fortunate enough to play in the orchestra at the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, where I had fantastic musical opportunities such as playing in the Bach Mass in B minor under Robert Shaw and the Fauré Requiem under Nadia Boulanger—both life-changing and life-enhancing experiences!

With school systems cutting back on or, worse yet, cutting out their music programs, the role of the VYOA in students’ lives takes on added importance so that they may have the invaluable experience of making great music with their friends and colleagues.

As a cello teacher, I’ve had many of my students go through the programs at VYOA and watched their growth as musicians. I’m always so pleased for them that they are participating in creating the sounds and feelings of great music, music that will sustain and thrill them for their entire lives, while also making friends and having fun! My favorite form of recreation is playing string quartets with friends.


Q. Why do you think music is an important aspect of a young person’s growth & development?

A. Today you’ll see many articles on the multiple benefits of playing music—training your brain, doing better in math, strengthening reading skills, processing multiple things at once, making lasting friendships, etc. This is all documented through many studies. But I think learning music teaches us how learning in small steps leads to growth; how playing with other musicians is fun and creates bonds; and how music enhances our experiences and moods in life. Want to feel happy? Put on some rollicking tunes. Feeling sad and want some soothing? Put on some lush symphony and let the sounds wash over and through you. For me, music is the background and foreground of my life. And I would like young people to have that in their lives. Thank you, VYOA!

Summer Symphony Camp 2019


Students who are currently in grades 4 through 8 can include orchestra in their summer plans by enrolling in the VYOA’s Summer Symphony Camp, which will take place at Elley-Long Music Center from June 24th through 28th.

All Summer Symphony musicians perform in the camp’s symphony orchestra, led by Kathleen Kono, and jazz orchestra, led by Adam Sawyer, making it a unique opportunity to perform a wide range of musical styles in an orchestral setting.

Campers can choose two electives from these six options:

  1. Hand Drumming with Tyson Vaylou
  2. Drama/Theater with Billy Ray Poli
  3. Ukulele with Becky Nowak
  4. Outdoor Recreation with Kyle Kramer
  5. Chorus with Adam Hall
  6. Jazz Improvisation with Adam Sawyer

There’s limited space for each instrument section, and flute is currently wait list only. Financial aid is available.


Meet Sabrina Chiang

SABRINA CHIANG, 17 years old, is a senior at South Burlington High School. She started playing the violin when she was eight years old. She has been part of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association since 2011 and the Vermont Youth Orchestra since 2014. Her violin teachers are Ira Morris and James Buswell, a former teacher at the New England Conservatory. She attended the Walnut Hill Music Festival in 2014, where she played for notable teachers and performers such as Lynn Chang, Nicholas Kitchen, and Magdelena Richter, among others. Sabrina regularly performs at many senior housing communities and has also performed at the Vermont State House.

As a VYO Senior Soloist Sabrina Chiang performs the fiery finale of Bruch’s first violin concerto at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 5, 2019 at 3pm. Get tickets.

Standing Ovation: Monique Corcoran

Monique with daughter & VYOA French horn player, class of 2017

After 23 years in Vermont, VYOA Board Chair Monique Corcoran will be moving out of state at the end of this month. In her seven years as a VYOA parent and five as a VYOA Board member Monique has brought such a passion and enthusiasm for the arts. In the midst of planning for this big move, she carved out some time to sit with us and answer these questions:

Q. When and why did you become involved with the VYOA? 

A. I became involved with the VYOA in 2012 when my daughter joined Sinfonia. I was completely impressed by the organization, had just finished tenure with another Board of Directors and was looking for a new organization to volunteer my time and energy with.


Q. What inspired you to serve on the VYOA Board of Directors? 

A. The VYOA offers an amazing experience to students in this region. The quality and caliber of the musical experience as well as the cultural and leadership opportunities is impressive. My parents exposed me to the arts throughout my childhood, and I appreciate how valuable the arts is to our society and our culture. We must preserve them and ensure that they continue. The VYOA plays a critical role in Vermont to help ensure that this happens.


Q. How has the organization changed throughout your tenure on the Board? 

A. The organization has become innovative with the implementation of the Rug Concert series, the Music Inspires program, collaborative projects with other organizations, incorporating other art forms, etc.  This dynamism offers relevant opportunities for the students to think about and experience music in new and different ways.


Q. Why do you think music is an important part of a young person’s development & growth? 

A. Music has been scientifically proven to improve the human brain’s capabilities in math and science. Beyond that, music uses both sides of the brain and fosters emotional and psychological growth. In today’s digital world dominated by constant social media distraction, learning and performing music forces students to be totally present in the moment and fully engaged with their partners in the orchestra. The history they learn about the composers is fantastic! As a society, we don’t want to lose or forget our history. Participation in the VYOA is just one way of many to keep that history alive. 


While we are sad to see Monique go, we wish her all the best in her next adventure. Thank you so much for dedicating your time & talent to our young musicians!


Senior Spotlight 2019!

Paige Greenia, clarinet
Mississquoi Valley Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 3 years
VT Youth Chamber Winds – 1 year











What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

The best part about playing in an orchestra is getting to know the other players and getting to understand and appreciate great music.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

My biggest musical breakthrough was learning how to perform and enjoy a piece of music and not get caught up in the technicalities of it.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

The best advice that I have is don’t forget to enjoy the music for what it is and don’t take the competitive part too seriously.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

I would really like to see more women composers as well as contemporary composers represented in orchestra repertoire.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Scavenger hunts and bowling during Reveille, our pre-season rehearsal week.


Senior Spotlight 2019!

Sebastiaan West, piano
Mount Mansfield Union

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years

January 2019 Senior Soloist





How did you choose your instrument over all of the others? 

When I was five, I began playing around on my family’s old upright. I always kind of gravitated towards it, partly because of how logically it’s laid out and partly because of the grandiosity of the sounds it’s capable of. For me it’s the most intuitive way of speaking in a musical idiom, since it’s such a visual, cerebral instrument without losing the capability to create absolutely heart-wrenching textures.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

I absolutely love the way that we get to tell a story together. I remember being in eighth grade and playing piano for Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite–the big chords at the end were like a grand, forgiving, cleansing church bell. I have felt so much catharsis and joy and sadness while onstage or in rehearsal with the VYO.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

I’d say that it was definitely touring Cape Breton Island with the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group. We were playing mostly Celtic music, and I remember waking up one morning and just feeling absolutely immersed in beauty. Everywhere I turned there were beautiful people making beautiful music. I thought to myself, ‘you know, this music thing is kind of alright.’

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

PLAY MUSIC YOU LIKE! I always find that I play and practice best when I’m playing music that I want to be playing. Work hard, but know what you’re working for. Tell a story.

What kinds of changes would you like to see in the orchestral world?

I’d like to see a greater emphasis on the importance of music theory and composition. They’re often hailed as this ‘holy-grail’ process, that only musical elites or specifically talented composers can achieve. In my experience, composition is really the same process as performance, and studying one really reinforces the other. Of course, great composers should be hailed with the same reverence as great musicians, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t do both.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

I’d have to go with every single thing that Dr. Klemme has said in his time as conductor thus far.

Apart from orchestral music, what other kinds of music do you listen to? Do other genres influence what you hear in orchestral music?

I do a lot of jazz, and listen to a bunch of Irish, Scottish, and Québécois traditional music. They really, really help me as a classical musician–as someone starting to develop their own style of appreciation and interpretation, it’s really helpful to have media where the narrative and harmonic complexity is a little bit reduced, like in Celtic trad; it makes it a lot easier to answer the questions of what sounds good in a melody, how a melody and an accompaniment fit together, and where the entire classical genre even came from.

What other activities do you participate in? 

I lead a jazz combo, am part of another jazz combo, and play piano and accordion in the Young Tradition Vermont Touring Group. I honestly spend the better part of everyday playing music, depending on what style I’m doing more of that day. School is definitely winding down but is still taking up a big chunk of my time; besides that I’m also working on my Eagle Scout Project.

What college or university do you plan or hope to attend next year? 

I’m not one hundred percent sure, but I’m pretty set on the University of Chicago, that is, after taking a gap year to play music around Europe.

What do you plan to study in college?

I’ll probably be studying something around the lines of either biology or ethnomusicology, or both, while performing regularly around wherever I end up going.