Auditions Open for APEEK 2017

Auditions are now open for APeek, the Contemporary Youth Orchestra's annual summer program for young musicians. 

APeek is an industry immersion program that gives young musicians the opportunity to learn and hone the full range of skills needed to be a professional musician in today's industry. Working in a professional environment, musicians will enjoy two busy weeks of rehearsals, master classes, yoga, plus advice and workshops from industry professionals, all culminating in a Broadway performance of "The Music Man" at Cain Park. 

There are many paths to success in today's industry, but musicians need to learn every aspect of their work in order to find that success. Contemporary Youth Orchestra has spent the past 20+ years learning how to best prepare our members for a future in the music, entertainment, and event industry and APEEK is our latest set of tools to provide for tomorrow's musicians, event organizers, promoters, and more. 

Check out our APEEK registration page for info on the courses, rehearsal schedule, pricing, and to sign up for auditions. 

Melissa Etheridge Driven To Write Music About These ‘Very Inspiring Times’

Melissa Etheridge was featured in a great article on the Huffington Post today! Check out an excerpt below, and don't forget to pick up your tickets for our June 7th performance with her. 

Melissa Etheridge has never been one to shy away from writing socially-conscious songs or getting downright personal in her music. She penned the Oscar-winning “I Need to Wake Up” for Al Gore’s 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and she sang about non-monogamous relationships in “I’m the Only One.”  

For the Grammy winner, there’s no time like the present to write music with impact and meaning. After all, so far in 2017, we’ve seen a new president in the White House, the Women’s March rally in D.C., and plenty of pending changes on the horizon.

“These are very inspiring times and I feel very moved to be writing right now, and I’ll probably be writing all year long,” Etheridge told HuffPost, referencing the political and social climate under the Donald Trump presidency. “It’s funny because I find myself wanting to write about what’s happening at the moment and understanding that what I write now might not be heard for another year, and God, hopefully things will be different in another year. So it’s kind of funny to write about something that’s happening now when you hope it will be completely different in the future.”

Head over to Huffington Post for the full interview, and make sure to pick up your tickets for our June 7th performance with Melissa Etheridge at Severance Hall

CYO Performing with Rocktopia LIVE!

We're thrilled that Contemporary Youth Orchestra will be performing with the touring production of Rocktopia, a concert that blends classical music with hard rock. This is a huge opportunity for our kids to participate in an amazing touring production, and we're so excited for the final performance!

Check out this great article in the Scene for more details. 

Rocktopia & CYO - Cleveland Scene

CYO in the Scene - Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

Check out this great feature about our upcoming show where we'll be performing the score to the Netflix Original "Pee-Wee's Big Holiday" LIVE! Composed by Ohio native Mark Mothersbaugh, the score (and the movie) are fantastic, and we can't wait to bring these to live for the first ever live scoring of the film. 

Click below for the full article.


"You can't assume anything," Liza said to begin the final rehearsal at Cleveland State University preceding this year's Alternative Press Music Awards. "This is D-day and I'm going to call you out." The orchestra has been able to put in more time preparing for this year's performance as they unveiled APeak, an eight day immersion comprising sectionals, rehearsals, yoga and theatre classes, as well as guest speakers from different sides of the music industry. 

The camp has pushed its students to think differently about the way they approach their instruments. Cellist Ami Scherson said, “Both classes built upon the idea that your body is an instrument that you have to take care of as well. I’ve never thought of my body like that before. My cello and I are almost the same size, but it’s this idea that you have to take care of it—you have to rosin your bow, you have to eat healthy, you have to work out your mind and your body. I think about the movement involved in the way that I play now and ask myself, am I doing this right? Does this sound good?”

Bassist Jack McGuire added, “I had a lot of tension problems. I practice yoga outside of this to help with my playing, but it was good to learn from someone who tailored it for musicians. The theatre class made it easier to have a conversation with somebody without using words and just trusting the other people, using a lot of eye contact and just being free with your body.”

At Monday’s rehearsal, the orchestra hit the music hard, spending three hours nitpicking the tiny details of each score before taking a break for lunch and yoga class and then returning for two and a half more hours "10,000 of your peers are going to be singing this back to you," Liza reminded her violins as they sang and clapped a part. The strings finalized bow patterns, practicing coordination for camera work. The trumpets called down the line to one another, claiming the difficult parts as their own. 

"Let that thing rip like you're mad at your bank statement," Liza called back to her horns. "It should hurt when you're done playing. You should wanna call somebody." 

“People are going to think it’s so odd, but it just works,” says former CYO violist Nikki Greene, who performed at last year’s inaugural show. “Orchestral music gives such an interesting, mature texture to everything. It just adds a little bit something extra that music always seems to need. Adding that to something as grand as a music award show just completes the experience.”

“People here want to take things a little bit farther, said violinist Conrad Paganini. “There’s always motivation to do something more because everyone is always open to doing something another way. Nothing is finite; you don’t have to do it one way. There’s always something different. Liza is always up to something awesome.”

“This music isn’t necessarily what I’d listen to personally, but hearing it orchestrated has made me love it so much more. This experience is really introducing me to new kinds of music,” chimed in clarinetist Kate Serbinowski. “Being a part of CYO is the best choice I’ve ever made. I wish I could stay in it forever. I wish I would have heard of it sooner because I would have done it my entire high school career.”

“A CYO member said to me, hey, come to a rehearsal and see what you think,” said percussionist Aidan Kranz. “I was in COYO and CYO needed an extra percussionist. So, I came and I thought it was awesome, so I stayed for the entire year. It’s indescribable, the feeling you get, but it leaves you wanting more.”

That feeling—of wanting more—is exactly what you’ll be left with after experiencing the tag-team performances between the orchestra and the bands selected by Alternative Press. We can’t give away any details about specific performances, but know this: you won’t believe your ears.  Tonight is going to blow you away. 



"Marrakesh Express" features a driving beat and soaring lines from the cello section. "Just a Song Before I Go" found the trumpets finalizing their mute selection, their lines laid back and chill. Beautiful legato flute lines sang throughout. Liza stopped the orchestra, recalling the FOX8 performance of earlier in the week and reminding the strings to place their lines carefully. The bass clarinetist paused the orchestra to ask a stylistic question, playing the excerpt through multiple times to help solidify the articulation Liza was after. Even while cracking a note, he apologized and continued forward without disturbing his rhythmical accuracy. These kids are no joke!

As an added treat, a chorus will join us for this a large portion of Friday night's performance. In Saturday's rehearsal, they joined us to work on a few tunes--"Our House," "Critical Mass" and "Simple Man," which add a beautiful dynamic to the orchestra's playing. The chorus features a wide age range--from elementary school children to CYO alums. "I wanted to capture that innocence," says Liza of the decision to include very young children. But do not think that these young children will not perform with the same musical integrity as is expected of the orchestra. 

"This piece is all acoustic. That's what you are doing. This opens up the show," Liza reminded the ensemble as they perfected "Critical Mass." The chorus experimented with different diction to achieve the proper aesthetic. "Orchestra, if you can sing and play, I think it should be a community event," Liza encouraged as they rehearsed "Our House."

As rehearsal drew to a close, a smile grew across Liza's lips as she exclaimed, "We are ready for Graham."