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By Megen Balda, Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies

Students in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies have unparalleled opportunities to collaborate with professional musicians, and at the upcoming Concertino and Philharmonic Community Concert, audiences will enjoy the fruits of a collaboration with Minnesota Orchestra Violinist Michael Sutton who will perform Saint Saëns’ fiery Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso with Philharmonic.

Philharmonic students and conductor Jeffrey Stirling began working with Mr. Sutton at GTCYS’ January retreat where he played parts of his solo piece and talked about how their work together would take shape. Mr. Sutton has continued rehearsing with the orchestra during the semester, imparting eager students with knowledge from years of experience.

Mr. Sutton has been involved with GTCYS in some form for most of his life. He started playing in a GTCYS’ orchestra when he was eight and experienced his first orchestra tour to Great Britain through the program. Mr. Sutton said of his experience, “My favorite memories as a GTCYS kid were the performances in Orchestra Hall. Hearing the sound swirl around in a real acoustic is jaw-dropping for a kid. As a professional, I’m so glad GTCYS still performs there regularly, and now has side-by-side rehearsals with [the Minnesota Orchestra]. GTCYS provided me a close network of peers who had similar ideas and goals. We had a lot of fun, while also pushing each other to new levels of skill and musicianship.”

As an accomplished musician, Mr. Sutton has given back to GTCYS by coaching Symphony’s second violins for the past six years, and he previously served on GTCYS’ Board of Directors. “I cannot imagine what my childhood would have been like without GTCYS, and after spending three years on the Board I learned just how relevant and potent a program it is for all of us,” he said. “GTCYS was great for me to help develop an understanding of how to play in an orchestra, especially since there was nothing offered in my schools. This is where GTCYS fills a very important gap. If a kid really wants to play in an orchestra, has nothing available at school, and can’t afford the tuition, the scholarships GTCYS offers could be their only shot.”

The concert is February 24 at 2:00pm at Farmington High School Auditorium (20655 Flagstaff Avenue, Farmington). Tickets are $6 at the door.

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