Charles County Youth Orchestra Celebrates Its Graduating Seniors

May 23, 2023

The ten graduating seniors of the Charles County Youth Orchestra, Jasmin Ali, Christine Baker, Joseph Bonney, Kaylee Davis, Riley Dunbar, Helena Kijesky, Nathan Londres, James Olmsted, Lara Oribello, and Jaya Robinson were honored at the CCYO concert on Sunday, May 21.

Two CCYO seniors plan to major in music next year in college. Riley Dunbar, violin, will major in music composition at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College and Helena Kijesky, flute, piano and voice will major in Music and Psychology at the University of Mary in North Dakota.

Riley remarked that at CCYO there is” always another opportunity to play alongside talented people and fellow students, and I have grown a lot in my time here. Helena commented that CCYO “has taught me a variety of skills and broadened my musical experience, both instrumental and compositional. I am very grateful for the direction of Dr. Kivrak and Dr. Lazar for the passion and dedication they have put into the youth orchestra, and for the companionship of my fellow members.”

Kaylee Davis, clarinet, will attend Bowie State University where she was awarded a substantial music scholarship. She intends to perform with both the Concert and Jazz Bands and take private lessons in both clarinet and saxophone while pursuing a degree in Nursing. Kaylee has a passion for music and says that “CCYO allowed me to challenge myself!”

Four of CCYO’s seniors will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park next year. James Olmsted, viola, and Nathan Londres, violin, will be majoring in Computer Science. James reminisced that CCYO “motivated me to invest more time in my instrument and pushed me to do things I was afraid of. I believe I am a better person for having the opportunity.” Nathan, who has been with CCYO for six years commented that “CCYO challenged me in ways I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.”

Christine Baker and Jasmin Ali, both violins, will also be attending the University of Maryland, College Park next year. Christine will major in Bioengineering and commented that her six years with CCYO “was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world!”  Jasmin will pursue a major in the technology field and said that “being a part of CCYO has been such an amazing experience, I loved being able to play in a group outside of school and to meet new people that all share a love for music.” All four CCYO students at the University of Maryland, College Park intend to join a UMD orchestra and Christine and Jasmin hope to keep performing in a string quartet as well.

Jaya Robinson, violin, will attend Spelman College to study Documentary Filmmaking and said that “I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing in CCYO and will miss rehearsals, it was one of my favorite extracurriculars.”

Lara Oribello, flute, will attend Salisbury University to major in Elementary Education. “CCYO has been an amazing experience and it has expanded my musical horizons to not only work with other wind instruments, but also brass, percussion, and string instruments too.

Joseph Bonney, viola, will serve as a missionary for two years in Greece and Cyprus before beginning college to study engineering. Joseph, who was one of the winners of CCYO’s 2022 Concerto Competition remarked that

“I am very grateful for my four years at CCYO. I have a greater appreciation for classical music and thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside my peers.”

Dr. Osman Kivrak, Director of CCYO, commented “I am excited to see that the success of our graduating seniors demonstrates the importance of practicing, hard work, and good study habits. Dr Kivrak added “I am enormously proud of all of them and wish them a successful and exciting journey in the next part of their educational lives. We will miss them.”

Upcoming CCYO events include the CCYO Concerto Competition Concert on June 3 at 3 pm at Christ Church, La Plata and the CCYO Chamber Music Festival from July 18 to July 29 with concerts at 8 pm on July 22 and 29 at Christ Church, La Plata.

Recently, CCYO was spotlighted in an online film by the Charles County Arts Alliance and has been featured on WTOP radio. Also, two CCYO String Quartets were finalists in the prestigious Washington Performing Arts Society Misbin Chamber Music Competition in Washington, D.C.

CCYO presents two large concerts and several smaller concerts each year, a two-week Chamber Music Festival with two additional chamber music concerts, a Concerto Competition Concert as well as masterclasses and sectionals for students in all four of CCYO’s ensembles.

CCYO is one of the largest youth organizations in Southern Maryland, providing music education and performance opportunities for talented young musicians ages 8 to 18 in Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties.

The Charles County Youth Orchestra is sponsored in part by grants from the Charles County Arts Alliance, the Charles County Charitable Trust, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Rotary Club of Charles County, MD, and the Knights of Columbus of Accokeek, MD. Other major contributors include Potters Violins, Gailes Violin Shop, and the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center of La Plata as well as generous donations from individuals.