The Creation and Formation of the Vivace Youth Orchestra

For several years prior to 2009, informal and wishful discussions had taken place among members of the Georgetown Symphony Society’s Board of Directors concerning the creation of a youth orchestra to serve the greater Georgetown area. Nothing of a formal nature had come from any of these conversations concerning how to create the group, who could be members, how those members would be selected or who could serve as organizers and conductors.

All of that changed when JD Janda took over as Georgetown ISD Director of Fine Arts in May 2009. Mr. Janda approached Charles Aguillon, who was then serving as President of the Georgetown Symphony Society with the idea of creating a high school youth orchestra for Williamson County and asked if the GSS would like to help support the idea. Little did Mr. Janda realize that this had been a dream of GSS well before he came to GISD. Janda, after multiple discussions with area music educators, realized that the Austin Youth Orchestra had never successfully recruited student members from the Georgetown and Round Rock areas because AYO rehearsal dates were Mondays and sites were well south of Williamson County making it extremely difficult for parents to deliver their children. Janda proposed a “Sunday Only” Youth Orchestra for high school students around Georgetown. Both rehearsals and concerts would be held on Sunday afternoons.

Using his connections to orchestra and band directors across Central Texas, Janda organized the Vivace Youth Orchestra during 2010 and held the first auditions in May 2011. A full orchestra made up of strings, woodwinds, brasswinds and percussion with students in grades eight through twelve was created with student members from Georgetown, Round Rock, Leander, Pflugerville, Hutto, Jarrell, Austin, and Elgin. The group was funded entirely by student tuition and generous community donations and received no funding whatsoever from the Georgetown Symphony Society. The first ever VYO Concert was held in the Alma Thomas Theater at Southwestern University on September 25, 2011. The first season was comprised of four Sunday afternoon concerts. Since the first season, the Vivace Youth Orchestra has grown to also include a Middle School String Orchestra which is growing and thriving.