The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra gave its first concert 22 October 1966 in Woodstock, NB, under founding director and conductor Stanley Saunders. The assistant conductor was Bruce E. Holder. It performed at Expo 67 and on 15 July in the same year won first place at the Dominion Centenary Festival of Music for Senior Orchestras. It made annual tours of New Brunswick; presented concerts in Halifax, Charlottetown, and Houlton, Maine; and regularly appeared on radio and TV. It performed at the National Arts Centre in 1972 and was the only Canadian participant at the Festival of International Youth Orchestras in Great Britain in 1973. During that tour, the orchestra presented concerts in St John's, Nfld, and in Scotland at Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Sectional and full rehearsals were held weekly in rotating New Brunswick venues including Saint John, Fredericton, Sussex, Moncton, and Sackville. Its roughly 80 members (expanded from the previous 60) range in age from 11 to 24 years.
In 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, 1986, and 1990 it performed at the Canadian Festival of Youth Orchestras in Banff, Alta. In 1978 it won a PRO Canada Orchestra Award for imaginative programming of contemporary music. In 1996, it performed at a String Fest in Charlottetown, PEI, and in 2003 appeared at Carnegie Hall. The autumn of 2002 saw the orchestra's string players appear before Queen Elizabeth II in Fredericton.
Auditions, Rehearsals, Special Performances
Rehearsals are held in various locations throughout New Brunswick. The orchestra's members, virtually all school and university student residents of New Brunswick, audition in the spring. After rehearsals in September, the orchestra forms up over fall and winter for concerts. In the past, this included summer tours within the province. The young musicians also perform for special events such as the opening of the new amphitheatre in Moncton (2005), and they undertook a summer tour to Parma, Italy, also in 2005.
Recordings: Canadian Repertoire
In 2003, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra commissioned Alasdair MacLean to compose the St Croix Island Suite, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of French settlers; this was premiered in 2004. The orchestra also commissioned Richard Gibson to write a work for piano and orchestra. Other Canadian works the orchestra has performed include Miramichi Ballad by Kelsey Jones, Three Sketches for Orchestra by Violet Archer, and Oskar Morawetz's Carnival Overture, at Carnegie Hall.
The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra's recording, Premiere (2003), featured much of its Carnegie Hall program as well as John Whitney's arrangement of Howard Shore's suite from Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. An award-winning documentary on the Carnegie Hall tour has been released on DVD.
Conductors of the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra have included Stanley Saunders 1965-8 and 1970-4, Kelsey Jones 1968-9, Clayton Hare 1969-70, Kenneth Elloway1974-5, Rodney McLeod 1975-82 and 1983-7, James Mark 1982-3, Nurhan Arman 1987-8, and Peter Pulford 1988-90, succeeded by Paul Campbell. James Mark took over again in 1994. Guest conductors have included Victor Feldbrill, Paul Pulford, Alexander Brott, Jánós Sándor, Oskar Danon, Carolyn Davies and Brian Ellard. Antonio Delgado, from Caracas, Venezuela, has served as musical director and conductor since 2010.