Students with a passion for string instruments have a place to develop and grow their talents.
Started in 2006, the Cornelius Youth Orchestra provides young musicians unique orchestral training and performing opportunities. The orchestra was started by two couples, Eduardo and Claire Cedeno and Nanette and William Haraden.
Because of budget cuts, many schools eliminated their orchestra programs, and the couples saw a great opportunity and need.
In 2005, both couples brought their idea to the Cornelius Parks and Recreation Department. The department liked the idea and donated space at Bailey Middle School for the orchestra to use. They also received a grant from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Arts & Science Council.
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By January 2006, the program was up and running.
The Haradens and Cedenos make a great team and play off of each other's strengths. Nanette and Claire handle behind-the-scenes administration, program development and grant writing.
Eduardo is the group's president and principal conductor, with an impressive background in music. He has conducted and studied music for years, including his role as director and conductor for a youth orchestra in Merida, Venezuela. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Butler University's Jordan College of Music in Indianapolis, Ill. Eduardo is also the strings instructor at Cannon School.
William is the vice president and co-conductor of the orchestra, and he is a member of the Lake Norman Big Band. He is an accomplished clarinetist and has conducted for the Lake Norman Orchestra. In college, he minored in music at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Cornelius Youth Orchestra is all about the kids. It is a friendly atmosphere and students want to be there. About a third of the students are home-schooled, which gives them the unique opportunity to be in an orchestra. Many other students play one instrument in their orchestra at school and another instrument at the youth orchestra.
Jana Powell, 18, who is home-schooled, has been a part of the orchestra since 2007. She has been playing violin for 10 years and for the last one-and-a-half years, she has been teaching the beginner students in the orchestra.
"I love teaching and seeing it click in their brains," said Powell. She loves that the orchestra chooses great songs that keep students motivated and challenged.
The orchestra consists of the youth orchestra for students with at least three years experience, the cadet orchestra for students with one year of experience and beginner lessons for students just starting out. Ages range from 6-18. The youth orchestra learns 8-10 pieces per semester, two of them at a college level of difficulty. It gives kids the opportunity to grow with the program.
"This is something that anybody can do," said Nanette.
The skilled instructors will help them to learn and develop their talents. The orchestra performs a concert at the end of each semester plus three special events in the community.
Students do not need to audition for the orchestra. The cost of the program is $180 for cadets and $200 for the youth orchestra for a 16-week semester. Payment plans and instrument rentals are available. Practices are Tuesday evenings at Bailey Middle School. Registration is open at www.corneliusyouthorchestras.com or contact Nanette Haraden at 704-765-1258 on evenings or weekends.