Music News & Reviews

A youthful 60

The Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras are celebrating their 60th anniversary this weekend. For this momentous occasion, CKYO is throwing a gala at Keeneland Race Course, and on Mother's Day, a concert at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts.

The gala is already closed, but the concert isn't. Tickets are cheap: $8 for adults.

CKYO isn't just a little orchestra comprising local talent. It's big.

”They are the best of the Bluegrass,“ said music director and conductor William Prinzing Briggs. ”We have students from 15 counties in the state. It's one of the top youth orchestras in the country.“ There are more than 300 students currently performing in the youth orchestras.

CKYO, which started in fall 1947, is ”the oldest independent youth orchestra in the United States,“ Briggs said.

When Briggs began his job with CKYO, in 2000, the organization had two orchestras. Now it has three orchestras and a jazz ensemble. The group will add another ­orchestra and jazz ensemble in the future, said Briggs, who will leave his post in August to move to Berlin, Germany.

”This is like a school program“ said Bob Stadelman of Bedford, a member and past president of the CKYO board. ”Young musicians who qualify are charged tuition.“ Scholarships are available.

All of the students have to audition for the orchestras.

”It's always been competitive, and now they are extremely so,“ Stadelman said.

CKYO is financed in part through LexArts, the umbrella arts organization for Lexington.

Sunday's concerts will feature some classic pieces, including Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky, Olympic Fanfare ”1984“ by John Williams and Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler.