45 Years Serving Young Musicians

Then and Now: Remembering a GTCYS Hero and Celebrating 45 Years

As we celebrate GTCYS’ 45th Anniversary Season, we remember and celebrate one of GTCYS’ leading founding fathers, Lawrence D. Gibson. In 1971, Larry, as he was known by colleagues, was responsible for helping spearhead conversations between four independent youth orchestras in the area. The consensus that a single, united youth orchestra organization would better serve students and the community alike resulted in a merger that created the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies in 1972.

A long-time marketing research professional at General Mills, Larry served as the president of GTCYS’ founding board of directors. Henry Charles Smith who is also a founding board member of GTCYS and retired resident conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra said, “For many years he gave brilliant financial and organizational leadership to our beloved GTCYS. His talent, vision, energy, and inspiration established the foundation for what has become one of the most admired and successful youth orchestras in the world.”

Larry also led the search for GTCYS’ first artistic director, appointing Dr. William Jones who said, “Larry was incredibly instrumental in the growth and development of GTCYS through both his leadership of the board, and his dedicated efforts in helping secure financial stability for the new organization. He was uniquely qualified for the position.”

Throughout GTCYS’ 45 years, Larry and his wife Lois were steadfast friends of the organization and fierce advocates for serving students and our community through the enrichment of music. We are deeply saddened by Larry’s unexpected death in October at the age of 89, and we are immensely grateful for the incredible legacy that he leaves for generations of GTCYS’ inspiring young musicians.

Thank you, Larry. It was a tremendous honor and a privilege to know you. We will miss you.

Megen Balda
Executive Director

GTCYS Welcomes New Harmony Students

Since 1972, GTCYS has been committed to providing a quality music education for students of all backgrounds and levels of interest. GTCYS also has a deep commitment to inclusivity, and providing opportunities for students through need-based scholarships is a priority. While scholarships fill an important need, our orchestral programs serve students already on the music education path. With this in mind, we wanted to create a new program that provides music instruction for students who don’t otherwise have the opportunity. Conversations with the West Side community in St. Paul indicated that there is a need and great desire for music instruction. The community also expressed enthusiasm for partnering with GTCYS to provide musical opportunities for students.

After a year of connecting with West Side residents and organizations, GTCYS launched Harmony in October. The program at Riverview Elementary provides violin instruction for 19 enthusiastic third graders after school two days a week. GTCYS conductors and violin instructors Barb Flooding and Mary Sorlie are teaching students excellent posture and violin position, how to pluck and how to play with the bow, what to listen for, and music vocabulary, as well as how to care for their violins. Students are having fun and studying hard – they’ve even requested more homework! Several students said they love playing violin, and many of them jump at the chance to perform for their peers.

Harmony students will share their newly learned skills and songs at their first performance for friends and families today, December 1. They’ll also perform with Concertino at a Family Concert on March 11 at Neighborhood House. In addition to their own performance opportunities, Harmony students and their families attended GTCYS’ Fall Festival at Orchestra Hall in November. They were tremendously excited for this opportunity, as many of them had never been to Orchestra Hall, and they look forward to their on stage debut there with GTCYS at our Spring Festival in May.

GTCYS plans to expand Harmony next year so that current students can continue their progress, while bringing in new youth. We see a West Side orchestra in our future, but for now we’ll focus on our 19 budding musicians!

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