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Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra raising funds for financial aid

Posted November 24, 2018 in Articles

Author: Christina Jolliffe

ELYRIA — They go on to study music education at colleges across the country.

They earn professional degrees.

They pursue professional music careers.

And they got their start with the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra.

NOYO, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, was founded in 1969 as the Lorain County Honors Orchestra. What started small now includes five ensembles, two summer camps and a chamber music program and has 180 ensemble musicians from across northern Ohio.

Last year, NOYO served more than 230 students with its Lorain County Arts Academy after-school program, Summer Symphony strings camp and Chamber Music program.

“Our hope is that they take the experience of NOYO along with them.” said NOYO executive and artistic director Andrew Machamer. “We’re about accessibility, and our reach is far and vast, but the majority of our kids are from Lorain County. We have great kids. They are awesome.”

From Toledo to Cleveland, students in elementary school to high school are eligible for NOYO. They sign up to audition in the spring and summer and are placed in an ensemble.

Tuition runs $330 for the season, which is 29 weeks, and students perform three concerts throughout the year.

The cost averages out to about $5 per hour.

But financial aid is always available, with NOYO distributing $15,000 in assistance last year.

To that end, NOYO has announced a $50,000 endowment campaign in conjunction with its 50th anniversary. With about $30,000 raised so far, NOYO will be making a big push in the coming months, Machamer said.

Income from the endowment will be used for student scholarships to hopefully sustain the organization for another 50 years.

“Most of the funds have come from corporations, foundations, like The Nord Family Foundation, and large individual donations,” Machamer said. “We have had many generous donors who have been impacted by NOYO over the years.”

“It’s an exciting and humbling experience to be around people who care about this organization as much as they do,” Machamer said. “Working in Oberlin, I run into people all of the time who say, ‘My kid was in NOYO 20 or 30 years ago,’ or ‘I was in NOYO 20 or 30 years ago.’ “

The anniversary season began in October with a visit to Severance Hall in Cleveland to hear a Cleveland Orchestra concert, followed by the fall concert performance at the Lorain Palace Theater with all 180 members of NOYO performing together for the concert’s finale of Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome.

There will be an alumni social at The Feve in Oberlin in conjunction with the winter concerts Jan. 27. After the spring concert March 31, NOYO will invite all musicians and attendees to participate in a birthday celebration for the organization.

“When I look at how far we have come and how much we have changed over the years, it truly is a special experience,” Machamer said.

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