The Golden Isles Youth Orchestra (GIYO), formerly called the Coastal Youth Symphony (CYS), was founded in 2005 by the Coastal Symphony of Georgia to introduce classical music to the children of Glynn County and the surrounding counties. In 2014, GIYO became a 501(c)3 organization, with its own board of directors and ability to accept donations.
Lynn Fogarty, the conductor of the early “Fiddlers of Glynn,” served as the orchestra’s first formal music director and conductor. Many founding members of the orchestra learned to play in the elementary school classes offered at that time in both the Glynn and Camden County school districts. Elementary strings programs in Glynn and all strings programs in Camden ended in 2008 and have not been reestablished.
Upon Ms. Fogarty’s retirement, Maestro Luis Haza, renowned for his work with the National Symphony and American Youth Philharmonic orchestras, became music director and conductor. Under his four years of leadership, the orchestra became one of the area’s premier performance groups. Maestro Haza also began our intensive summer instruction program for orchestra members at the College of Coastal Georgia. Maestro Haza retired at the end of the 2014 season.
Maestro Jorge Peña, well-known locally and regionally for his well-conducted and well-run musical organizations, became the new music director and conductor. In 2014, the youth symphony became the Golden Isles Youth Orchestra (GIYO). The GIYO has become a regional youth orchestra, drawing students from Glynn, Camden, McIntosh, Ware, and Bacon counties. To date, all GIYO musicians have graduated from high school and enrolled in the military or in college, many of them with scholarships. The orchestra practices on most Monday evenings, 6 to 8:30 pm, and performs two major concerts each year along with a Fall fund-raising recital.
In addition to the full orchestra, the GIYO began offering small group performance opportunities for selected student musicians in our Ensemble, originally directed by Beverly Fetter. The Ensemble is currently conducted by Director of Ensemble and String Development, Melissa Chappell. Last year, the ensemble performed at local churches, service organization meetings, and civic celebrations.
In 2013, our developmental strings orchestra, Symphonette, was formed to meet the need of early strings development in the area. Membership is secured by audition, and most successful applicants have had at least one year of instruction on a stringed instrument. Symphonette is conducted by professional musician, Todd Lockwood. Most Symphonette members audition successfully to become members of the full orchestra. Symphonette practices on Monday evenings, 6 to 7:30 pm, and offers two “Families and Friends” performances a year.
String program participants have the opportunity to receive GIYO-subsidized small group and private lessons, as well as placement in our summer camps.