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Great Falls Symphony's Youth Orchestra Celebrates 25 Years with Free Concert

Celebrate the New Year with friends young and old at the Mansfield Theater with a FREE symphony concert featuring the Great Falls Symphony’s Youth Orchestra alumni with Maestro Grant Harville and Music Director Emeritus Gordon Johnson conducting.

The Great Falls Youth Orchestra is hosting an alumni concert celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The concert will take place Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 7:00 pm in the Mansfield Theater. Free tickets can be found by visiting

Twenty-five years ago the city of Great Falls was seeking to create positive opportunities for our youth. This was parallel to Music Director Emeritus Gordon Johnson's goal of developing leadership skills in young adults through music and to provide training for future members of the Great Falls Symphony. Johnson said,

“I am so pleased to be part of this 25th Anniversary celebration of the GF Youth Orchestra. Over the years we have had the privilege of making music with so many talented young adults. Although our mission has had ambitious implications, our goal was always to play music, have fun and make friends.”

The Great Falls Youth Orchestra was created through the combined efforts of the Great Falls Symphony Association, Great Falls Public Schools, private schools, the City of Great Falls and private instrumental music teachers. The program has expanded and now includes Sinfonia, a strings-only middle school ensemble, and a robust Youth Chamber Music Program for any instrumentalist that wants to take part.

The Great Falls Symphony Orchestra currently has many adult musicians who have come through the Great Falls Youth Orchestra program. Several alumni have also served on the symphony’s board of directors and as staff of the Symphony. The Executive Director, Hillary Shephard, graduated from the Youth Orchestra in 2003 as well as our current Youth Orchestra Program’s Manager, Elizabeth Quinby.

“I remember my first Youth Orchestra rehearsal, like it was yesterday. I was a freshman in high school and once I heard this powerful multitude of sounds coming from all the winds, brass, strings, and percussion all at once, I knew I was hooked for life!” - Elizabeth Quinby, Youth Orchestra Programs Manager.

Over the course of 25 years, over 800 young adults have gone through the program. These students, coming from as far north as Shelby and Havre and as far south as Helena, have benefited tremendously from this program. Maestro Grant Harville has continued the tradition of excellence as the current Youth Orchestra Director, a position he has held for the past 5 years.

While Gordon has the privilege of reacquainting himself with musicians he's known for 25 years, I have the joy of meeting many of them for the first time. The program will be such a delightful celebration - can't wait”. - Maestro Grant Harville

People who have gone through the program currently live not only in our region but all over the United States and the world. The experience and ethics required to be a successful member of this organization has served these people in their professional lives as well. Jayla Mitchell, a former cellist in the program says,

“My time in the Great Falls Youth Orchestra was so valuable as a student and is valuable to me as a performance major in college. The opportunities to perform in a symphony orchestra and in chamber ensembles at such a young age is one of the reasons I pursued a career in music. Not only that, but I made so many friendships through this group. These are the kind of people you want to keep around for a lifetime.”

Jayla Mitchell will be sharing her talent with us as a soloist at our Great Falls Symphony concert, Intermezzo, on February 12th.


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