The Horton Community Youth Orchestra is looking forward to an exciting winter season

The Horton Community Youth Orchestra
is looking forward to an exciting winter season

By Elizabeth Sircom


In November the HCYO senior orchestra performed alongside the Acadia University Orchestra in a combined concert at the Festival Theatre in Wolfville. Another concert will take place in March, and plans are being made for a new collaboration with the Horton senior concert band, playing music by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo (“Song of the Universal”).


This string program for young people was established in September 2015 by Dr. Christoph Both (cello), Dr. Gillian Smith, DMA (violin), and Kay Greene, Horton band director, as a collaborative initiative between the Acadia University School of Music and Horton High School with the goal of being a community-based strings program accessible not only to the students of Horton, but to any interested young people aged 10-24.


Band and choir programs are offered in all the local middle schools; motivated students can join the Honour Choir and the Acadia Youth Band, and there are many opportunities in the community to participate in theatre and musical theatre. While there have been very successful small strings programs locally at different times in the past, there was a desire to provide a more developed structure for aspiring young string players. HCYO aims to offer a comprehensive program, durable in the long term, which includes lessons (“clinics”) for beginners in violin, viola, cello and string bass, a beginner, junior and senior orchestra, performing in combined concerts with other Horton High instrumental ensembles, and access to the Acadia University Orchestra for advanced players. The Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra would constitute the next step, establishing a solid upgrading path for string students from HCYO to progress through the Acadia University orchestra to the NSYO and beyond to professional careers in music.


Horton High is an ideal centre by its geographical location close to Acadia and to two of its feeder schools, EMS and Wolfville. The schedule of activities, on Monday afternoons, starting at 3:30, allows time for younger students, whose school day is shorter, to join in.


Connection to the Horton band program and the generous support of the Horton Band Parents Association is an essential part of HCYO, providing not only the use of a beautiful facility but also facilitating the integration of string players into other instrumental ensembles. Having strings at Horton completes the offer of possible instrument families for students to discover and enjoy.


Another important aspect of the restructured program is the participation of music education students from the Acadia School of Music for whom HCYO is a great opportunity to apprentice and gain practical experience before heading out as new music teachers, spreading string programs of their own.


A recent sizeable donation of second-hand instruments from String Music Atlantic (a former Halifax Schools Instrumental Loan Program) and a substantial grant from the Robert Pope Foundation, which supports arts and community initiatives, have allowed us to begin an outreach program. A strings initiation workshop was offered to seventeen students at Evangeline Middle School in the fall and a 6-week workshop is ongoing at the Booker School in Port Williams. “ It is a rare opportunity to be able to allow children to explore a string instrument, simply for the fun of it”, says outreach coordinator, and cello instructor Elizabeth Sircom.


This fall a fiddle group was added, directed by Acadia School of Music graduate Allison (Stewart) Ernst and open to members of the community of any age who play the fiddle—even a little! So come and join us—HCYO has lots to offer!

All activities take place on Monday afternoons at the Horton High school Performance Centre, from 3:30 PM onwards.

For more information contact Dr. Gillian Smith DMA, HCYO Musical Director,