Cleveland’s Contemporary Youth Orchestra thrilled to be back in live practices


CLEVELAND (WJW) – It’s not just about the music. If it was, Cleveland‘s Contemporary Youth Orchestra wouldn’t sound this good even in practice.

The music is a conduit to help these young people not just play music, but to let the music take them down many roads.

“I’ve learned a lot about music and played many orchestral works that I wouldn’t have seen without CYO,” said Ashley Handwerk, who is in her third year with the youth orchestra.

Last year was tough. COVID-19 restrictions meant that they could only practice and play together virtually, but now they’re back together on stage at Tri-C.

It wasn’t just the music that kept them together. They were not just playing with a group of other students, but with their friends.

“I really like the people I’ve met through CYO. I’ve met a lot of good friends through CYO, a lot of mutual friends. It’s just been really great,” Handwerk said.

That atmosphere is what helped draw first year conductor Kristopher Marron to the orchestra. He’s played and toured with several bands and has worked as a music teacher for many years.

He says being able to work with such a motivated and talent bunch of young people is an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.

“To me, this feels like a dream come true. It gives me an opportunity to use all the years of performing and teaching, all the years accumulated of touring and recording and working with various artists and I get to bring that to these students.” Marron said.

Being back on stage has given things a new dose of fun. The orchestra is actively looking for more talented musicians to join them on the stage.

“On December 18, we are inviting all interested high school musicians to come join us for an open house. We’re welcoming any high school musician to come and experience the CYO experience and rehearse with us.” CYO Executive Director Kim Deichler said.

Because of capacity restrictions, the Cleveland Youth Orchestra probably won’t play before a crowd until next spring.

Still, the band is back together again, and even though it’s practice, the music is live and that’s a sound everyone has waited long time to hear.

“That really is the transformative power of music. It connects, it unifies, it’s emotional, it gives us all the opportunity to come together,” Marron said.

If you would like more information about the orchestra or have a talented young musician who would like to join, go here.

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