by Michael Hope

Over the course of my career as a professional classical musician, I have been so lucky to enjoy the marvelous sense of community that comes with being part of a symphony orchestra.

Making symphonic music is a communal activity – our blessing as musicians is that music is a commodity that requires the company of others to produce. The people we work with to make music eventually become like family.

I first realized this back in 1978 when I won a spot in the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. I was just 17 at the time, but the intense music-making (and socializing!) that happened at he NYO quickly taught me the value of teamwork, and just what can be accomplished when you mix the energy and passions of teenaged people with good leadership and beautiful art. (it’s actually quite electric…)

I was lucky enough to play in the NYO for 4 consecutive summers, and some of the people I played with have remained lifelong friends, just from the bonds we formed. Similarly, the music and training I received formed the basis of my skill sets that I use every day playing in the CPO. The NYO was the launching point of my professional career, and I truly feel that I couldn’t have been luckier (to have been in the NYO) if I had won a million dollars in the lottery!

And I’m not the only one: All of Canada’s orchestras are populated with NYO alumni who had similar experiences to mine..

And now – almost 40 years later – I go and hear the NYO play whenever they tour and come to Calgary. And every time, I am filled with nostalgia for those years – while at the same time am blown away by generation after generation of fine young people who play their hearts out with their inextinguishable ardour for music…

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada performs on August 9th at Arts Commons.

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