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Cornelius Youth Orchestra, for both students and leaders, a labor of love

By David Vieser.  There will be sweet notes emanating from the Bailey Road Recreation Center this fall as parents and students assemble for the fall session of the Cornelius Youth Orchestra (CYO). It’s a community orchestra open to all youth musicians in first through 12th grade with one or more years of music instruction.

For Program Coordinator Nanette Haraden and her husband Bill, who actually directs the orchestra, this is a very exciting time of year and a labor of love.

“When we first started the Youth Orchestra eight years ago, we were lucky to have 30 students participating,” said Nanette. “Last year we had 55 and we’re hoping for even more this year.”

The CYO Program is designed to accommodate students who can perform “medium-easy” to concert level compositions. Members can play string, brass, woodwind, piano or percussion instruments.

The Haradens came to the Lake Norman area from Northern Illinois 22 years ago, and have become deeply involved in the region’s music programs. Initially they founded the Lake Norman Orchestra in Mooresville, and then the Lake Norman Big Band.

Cornelius Youth Orchestras’ Christmas Concert

However the youth orchestra represents a different sort of challenge. “Our goal is to give the students a full spectrum of musical training, from their very young years to high school,” said Nanette. “We have four concerts each year—Halloween, Christmas, Winter and Spring—and each of the four concerts offers a mix of difficulty for the music we select.”

Since most of the area schools do not offer an orchestra program until the middle school grades, Haraden views the youth orchestra as a great tool to give the budding musician an early start.

In response to whether they have ever had to turn away a child for lack of experience or ability, Haraden said she didn’t.  “That’s one of the unique parts of our program…we always let them decide.”

It’s also not unusual to see some parents sitting next to their children at rehearsal playing music with them. “If the parents already have a musical instrument background, then yes, we do allow them to sometimes join in. That’s always lots of fun.”

An informational Sessions for the 2018-2019 concert season will take place  Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Bailey Road Recreational Center. New member orientation will be Monday Aug. 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More info: Nanette Haraden at 704-576-7270.

Orchestra notes: The Cornelius Youth Orchestra is a non-profit musical organization dedicated to providing cultural enrichment, instrumental music instruction and education and unique performance opportunities for local youth through a specialized full orchestral program. The program fee of $250 includes all music and materials, music instruction, concerts and receptions. In addition, CYO offers financial aid to those in need.