Youth Orchestras of San Antonio Receives $50,000 Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

Facebook / YOSA
COVID-19 displaced the music of orchestras from massive concert halls to the confines of digital speakers. Yet, through it all, the Youth Orchestra of San Antonio continued to train the next generation of musicians.

Now, thanks to a new $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, YOSA can keep its mission going through the pandemic.

The grant comes through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Endowment distributed $44.5 million in federal funds to 855 organizations, YOSA being one of them, to support staff salaries, facilities costs and fees for artists or contracted personnel.

“YOSA will use this funding to pay our staff and artists in July and August as we host Virtual YOSA Summer Symphony Camp,” Marketing Manager Alex Flores said in a statement emailed to the Current. “YOSA will continue to create new online content, review video auditions for the 2020/21 YOSA Orchestra season, and make preparations to potentially begin in-person rehearsals in September (pending public health guidelines).”

To resume rehearsals, the orchestra must completely change the way musicians practice. It will limit rehearsals to 90 minutes, sit chairs six feet apart and require members to wear masks. Wearing a mask would be impossible for woodwind and brass performers, so full orchestra practices will not resume in September.

Facebook / YOSA
“Because research is still underway on the safety of woodwind and brass performance, YOSA will rehearse strings and percussion separately from woodwind and brass players in the fall of 2020,” YOSA states on a page addressing the coronavirus on its website, updated on Wednesday. “Full orchestra and large wind ensemble activities will not resume until more information is available on how to do so safely.”

While the musicians practice at home, YOSA is offering a Virtual Summer Symphony Camp from July 13 through July 17. In lieu of in-person auditions, YOSA is accepting video submissions until Saturday, July 15 for the 2020-2021 season. To help young musicians practice, the musical directors have been posting practice tips, conversations with professional musicians and performances with local artists on social media.

To keep patrons entertained, YOSA is also streaming past performances on Facebook.

First up is YOSA's recent collaboration with the San Antonio Chamber Choir, At the Movies, which featured music from blockbuster films including Edward Scissorhands, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Lord of the Rings and Schindler’s List. The concert will stream at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 11.

Next month, die-hard Prince fans can enjoy a repeat of Purple Rain Live, for which YOSA teamed up with San Antonio-based artists and bands to perform the beloved pop star's epic album. Purple Rain Live will stream on Saturday, August 15.

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