GDYO launches Jazz Institute

The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra is proud and excited to introduce its newest offering, the GDYO Jazz Institute. The GDYO is well known for its dedication to excellence in music education and performance. The GDYO Jazz Institute will be an extension of that excellence.
Few youth orchestras in the country have established jazz programs as a part of their instrumental and orchestral programs. Fewer still have pursued combo-based programs rather than jazz orchestras or big bands. GDYO's Jazz Institute will provide young musicians in the Dallas Fort-Worth Metroplex the opportunity to learn what it means to be a jazz musician, the chance to build their skills on their instrument and the experience of working with other like-minded young people. Designed to serve 50+ high-school students, this program will offer the following:

  • Technique classes
  • Combo rehearsals
  • Instruction by professional jazz musicians and educators
  • Jam sessions in area jazz venues
  • Interaction with top jazz professionals in master classes
  • Scheduled performance opportunities

The program will include instruction in instrumental techniques, improvisation, music theory, music history, composition, musician etiquette and how to function in the music business. The focus of the program is excellence in jazz music education and performance.

GDYO is a tuition-based program. Scholarship assistance is available, so that no qualified musician will be turned away because of financial need. Tuition for the GDYO Jazz Institute is $500 per year.

How is the program structured?

There are three levels (Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced) with three combo groups in each level (nine combos total). A Jazz combo group includes a rhythm section (piano, drums, bass, guitar) with two-four "horns".  Students will be involved in a one-hour techniques class specific to their instrument, followed by a one-hour combo rehearsal. Weekly classes take place at the First United Methodist Church in Denton, beginning in September and continuing through May. There will be three jazz concerts and one-two "jam sessions" in established jazz venues.

When are auditions?

Interested musicians can apply immediately at www.gdyo.org/jazz; auditions will take place in August. There is a $25 non-refundable application fee for those who apply by June 1. After the June 1, the application fee will be $35. Upon completion of the application, musicians will receive detailed information about auditions, including important excerpts to prepare. Excerpts will not be available until the candidate's application is received and approved.

Why jazz?  Why now?

For many years, GDYO has considered adding a jazz component to its highly regarded program of orchestra and wind symphony training. To research and prepare for this new program, GDYO called on its existing connections to the strong jazz community in and around Dallas, including the Sammons Center for the Arts (GDYO's "home"), the University of North Texas and other community members. In all these conversations, the level of excitement and support for the establishment of this program has been extremely high.

More information can be found online at www.gdyo.org/jazz.


Wind Symphony to feature Concerto Competition Winner

On Sunday, May 4th at 7:30, the GDYO Wind Symphony and Flute Choir will perform at the Dallas City Performance Hall.  (Earlier that day, the Philharmonic, Sinfonietta, DSE, and YPO will perform at 2:30pm at the Meyerson Symphony Center.)  Wind Symphony will feature the winner of the 2013-2014 concert competition, horn player Scott Van Gundy on the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1.

Scott Van Gundy is currently a Senior Wind Symphony member at Flower Mound Marcus High School Band, were he plays under the direction of Amanda Drinkwater.   Scott started out on the Horn in the 6th grade.  The horn and his music quickly became the passion and focus of his life.  Scott has been selected to the TMEA 5-A All-State Symphonic band, as well as LISD Outstanding Soloist. Scott was a member of the Marcus Wind Symphony that performed the Finale Concert at the Midwest Clinic in 2012. During that same trip he had the opportunity to fill in with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra under the Direction of Leonard Slatkin.  Scott has performed on numerous occasions in the greatest concert halls around the state with both Marcus High School and GDYO Wind Symphony. Performing at the Dallas Wind Symphony/GDYO side by side concert has always been a favorite, as well as working with David Lesser (Principal Horn DWS), who has been an amazing mentor and teacher to Scott.

Scott has been a member of the GDYO Wind Symphony for three years.  He has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the Wind Symphony and Dr. Williams, who he looks up to and has learned so much from.  The GDYO Wind Symphony has been such a big part of Scott’s life and he will miss all the time spent here. His favorite piece that the ensemble has performed is Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche by Richard Strauss.  And his most memorable experience was the Texas Bandmasters Association Convention trip and performance last summer!

He will pursue a degree in Horn Performance at the University of Texas at Arlington, allowing him to continue his studies on the Horn and music.  You can find out more about this concert here (link to concert page??).