Video credit and thanks to Allen Meadows
Organizational History of the Young People’s Philharmonic
The Young People’s Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley was founded in 1976 by Jerry T. and Nancy Bidlack, and is composed of two orchestras. One, a full symphonic orchestra made up of 85 talented high school students and the other, a string orchestra made up of 45 middle school students. These young musicians come from all over the Lehigh Valley (Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe, Carbon, Bucks, and Berks counties) and Western New Jersey to audition for a seat in the orchestra. Auditions are held in May for the following school year. The musicians rehearse for two and one-half hours weekly at First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem.
Mission and Vision Statements
The Young People’s Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley is organized for the purposes of providing the youth of the greater Lehigh Valley with their own musical organization whereby they may study and perform original symphony orchestra literature, as it was written by the composers, increasing the awareness and appreciation of symphonic music throughout the area, serving the Middle and Senior high school youth of the community, and cooperating with the schools in nourishing and developing high quality musicianship. Members of the Philharmonic will be encouraged to participate in their own school programs.
We offer young instrumentalists opportunities to play and enjoy classical music in a healthy and supportive environment, to reach their full musical potential, and to apply the skills and knowledge acquired through their pursuit of music to life beyond the concert hall.
The Young People’s Philharmonic of the Lehigh Valley is organized exclusively for charitable and educational purposes provided under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and does not contemplate pecuniary gain or profit incidental or otherwise. The YPP is an approved Educational Improvement Organization in Pennsylvania. A working Board of Directors composed of the orchestras’ conductors, staff, parents, and local music teachers is responsible for the organization’s governance.
Board meetings are held on the first non-holiday Monday of each month September through June (excluding May). The annual meeting is held in May. Executive committee meetings are held as needed. All meetings are open to interested parties.
Public Service and Outreach
In addition to developing and educating its members, the orchestras reach out into the community to educate and inspire an interest in music.
The orchestras perform three formal concerts per year. Combined these concerts draw approximately 1500 attendees.
In addition to the formal concerts, the orchestras have a special relationship with area schools as a result of the school concerts they perform each year. School tours to different local districts each year enable the young players to share their music with their young contemporaries. Peers bringing music to peers is our critical difference!
The orchestras also perform concerts at area nursing homes each year. In all, the YPP and JSP provide an in-depth exposure of symphonic music for about 130 young musicians, and an enjoyable and educational experience for more than 4,000 people in the community each year.
The Young People’s Philharmonic Senior Orchestra performs entirely from original symphonic scores and is under the direction of Kenneth Bean. Students must master their own parts and, by playing and listening in rehearsal, learn how their parts contribute to the composition as a whole. This provides a deeper understanding of the underlying structure of the music and the background material required for college or conservatory music study. Our students rehearse once weekly for 2 ½ hours and have several sectional rehearsals per year with professional coaches appropriate for their instrument. Each student receives more than 65 hours of instruction per year. This year we provided over 7,800 hours of musical instruction. Every year several graduating seniors go on to professional music study, and nearly all remain actively involved in music performance.
The Junior String Philharmonic also plays original compositions. It provides intensive training in string performance under the guidance of Conductor Domenick Fiore, and String Coach Connie Trach. It is a preparatory experience for advancement into the senior orchestra.
Senior Concerto Competition
From the very beginning of the orchestra over 35 years ago, we thought including concertos in our repertoire would be a valuable addition to the program. The problem is always, who will play them? We decided to open a competition to students in our orchestra who are high school seniors to eliminate the problem of the same person winning the competition more than once. Auditions are in January. Paid professional musicians judge the competition to ensure it is fair and that the quality of the program is superior. The students play one movement of a concerto of their choosing from memory. The winner is selected from the auditions. The attraction of a concerto has been a very successful addition to our Spring Concert program.