Youth Symphony Receives Community Foundation Grant For Conductor

Bryan Eckenrode

Board members of the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony recently received a grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation from the foundation’s Blossom Fund and H. James Abdella Fund for the Arts.

The money will be used for the honorarium for Bryan Eckenrode, symphony conductor and music director.

“We are so grateful for the Community Foundation’s support of Bryan over many years,” said Katie Derrenbacher, symphony board president. “It has been critically important in our work to give our students an exceptional music education experience.”

Celebrating its 30th season, the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony was established to provide quality classical music education and performance opportunities to young musicians and to add to the cultural offerings of the area.

Acclaimed both as a cellist and a conductor, Eckenrode took the musical reins of the symphony in 2003. The organization then had a single orchestra which is now the String Chamber Orchestra, its most advanced group for high school and college musicians. Prelude Strings for beginning string players and the Young Artists Orchestra for intermediate students were formed under Eckenrode’s leadership.

The application the symphony submitted to the Community Foundation stressed the value of music education, noting that, “Numerous studies have shown the significant impact music education has on child development, with improvements in motor skills, language development, visual learning, decision making, inventiveness, IQ, and academic performance.” As an example of CRYS’s contribution to helping develop the community’s leaders, it noted that, “Our newest board member is a CRYS ‘graduate’ who is now the fifth through 12th grade band director at Chautauqua Lake Central School.”

In late April, Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony students will take a trip to hear the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra perform “Star Wars and More: The Best of John Williams.” The foundation also provided support for trip, which will include a backstage get-together with some of the orchestra members.

The culmination of this season will be the orchestras’ presentation of their Spring Gala Concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 7, in Chautauqua Institution’s Elizabeth Lenna Hall.

For more information about the Chautauqua Regional Youth Symphony, call 664-2465, ext. 202, email, or visit the symphony’s Facebook page or website at