CSUN Youth Orchestra

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Our History

50 Years of CSUN Youth Orchestra History

Dr. Thomas Osborn founded the Valley Young People’s Orchestra, serving as Music Director and Conductor. The musicians range in ages from 7 to 17 and professional musicians are called upon to serve as coaches. The Valley Youth Orchestra Association was created and incorporated as a non-profit in 1974 to develop and provide financial support for both orchestras at the time. Dr. Osborn’s wife Joyce was instrumental in the administrative and musical growth of the organization.

California State University, Northridge invites the orchestra to take up residency on campus. They become known collectively as the C.S.U.N. Youth Orchestra Academy.

In 1982 Dr. Osborne retired after twelve years with the orchestra. David Avshalomov serves as Music Director and Conductor for the next two years. The two orchestra format of the academy is redefined under the tenure of new Music Director Wes Kenney. A preparatory orchestra known as the Junior Orchestra and the symphony orchestra known as the Senior Orchestra are results of this transition.

In 1986 the Northridge Chamber Orchestra was formed as a unique experiment in music education combining the top youth orchestra musicians with professional musicians from the area. In 1989 the Senior Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphony on No. 9 in concert with the Valley Master Chorale as part of the 20th season Gala.

In 1991 Kimberly Blake-Kilgore’s “Music for Youth Orchestras” was added to the organization and became the third orchestra. Mr. Kenney steps down in his eighth season. Mr. Jerry Luedders becomes Music Director for the next twelve seasons. During his tenure the organization split into groups known as the Philharmonic, Symphony and Camerata Strings. The number of participants went over 150 at that time.

Dr. John Roscigno, serving as Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at CSUN takes over as Music Director of the Youth Orchestras and Conductor of the Philharmonic. The orchestra in that time has had the opportunity to perform in Disney Hall as part of an L.A. Philharmonic arts partnership. The orchestra grew to nearly 200 students during his tenure and many of the former students have gone on to professional careers in music.

Dr. Dean Anderson is the new Music Director of the CSUN Youth Orchestra. He leads the organization and conducts the top group, the CSUN Youth Philharmonic.