Local News


Youth symphony teaches discipline

By LINDSEY ADKISON The Brunswick News

Lucy Thomas has always loved working with kids and music. And when she was recently offered an opportunity to work with both as the general manager of the Coastal Georgia Youth Symphony, she jumped at the chance.

"I was on the St. Simons Land Trust Board with Russ Marane, a current board member of the Coastal Youth Symphony Board. I ran into Russ one evening this summer, and he asked me to apply for the position as the CYS general manager. The president of the CYS, Barbara Sullivan, offered me the job at the end of July," Thomas said.

The opportunity turned out to be even more rewarding than Thomas anticipated. In addition to working with talented young musicians, Thomas was also thrilled to meet Maestro Luis Haza, the group's conductor.

Haza is definitely impressive. A child prodigy, he was both a conductor and a star violinist by age 11. A native of Cuba, he immigrated to the United States. Since then, Haza has performed with top-tier orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

Thomas says both the children and the community are lucky to have him.

"The real bonus is working with Maestro Luis Haza. Our community is extremely fortunate to have someone with his level of talent, experience and prestige. The benefits the members of our youth symphony will reap from their involvement in this orchestra, under his wing, will last them the rest of their lives," Thomas said.

"I am confident that many of them will be writing their college essays about their hard, but rewarding experience as a member of this prestigious orchestra. They may not grasp it now, but they will look back on this privilege and experience with great satisfaction and pride."

Thomas says the students also gain more tangible things from involvement with the youth symphony. The obvious benefits, she says, are the students involved learn to play and enjoy classical music. These talents will on display at the group's first concert on Dec. 9.

But Thomas says the members of the youth symphony are picking up key life skills as well.

"They are learning to play instruments and music pieces that require many hours of practice at home and weekly two-and-a half-hour rehearsals. The commitment and sacrifices it takes to be in the orchestra teaches them discipline and gives them a sound work ethic," Thomas said. "This organization opens the door to higher learning to a cross section of our youth; privileged and underprivileged. Some of these students would attend college anyway, however some will attend college because of this unique opportunity. The generous supporters of the CYS understand that investing in our youth and our cultural arts pays big dividends to the community and to many generations to come."