The Charles County Youth Orchestra proudly announces that its graduating Seniors will attend some of the top colleges in the U.S. and the world this fall.

The senior members of the orchestra Evangeline Gilmer, Ella Gerstman, Kyle Anderson, Areini Partis and Autumn Smith will be honored at an outdoor concert on Saturday, May 21, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. The event will be held outdoors on the grounds of the Alice Ferguson Foundation in Accokeek, Maryland and is limited to family members because of Covid regulations.

Evangeline Gilmer, Kyle Anderson, Areini Partis, Autumn Smith, Ella Gerstman

Evangeline Gilmer, CCYO’s Concertmaster and winner of CCYO’s 2020 Concerto Competition, will be attending Harvard University intends to major in Neuroscience. She will be auditioning to play in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra (North America’s oldest symphony orchestra) in Fall 2021.

At home with piano and flute as well as violin, Evangeline commented “I have been a CCYO member for the last 6 years. This was the best organization I have ever been a part of, and I have learned so much from my peers and conductors — Mrs. Patterson, Dr. Kivrak and Dr. Lazar. I am especially grateful to Dr. Kivrak and Dr. Lazar for being so willing to take over a youth orchestra in a small city despite their extensive experience and expertise. I would also like to thank them for not giving up on finding us creative opportunities to rehearse and perform this year. Even though there was a pandemic and we had to do everything virtually, we still improved so much under their guidance. I had a one-of-a-kind musical experience in CCYO where I found friends, and learned commitment, teamwork, and improved my musicianship. All this even helped me to get into my dream university. I am so thankful to all of the CCYO board members, parents, students and to the directors we have worked with for giving us this amazing experience, and I hope many more years of students to come will be able to better themselves as musicians and as people through the CCYO program.”

Areini Partis, one of the two graduating cellists, will be attending Howard University to major in Clinical Laboratory Science and minor in Music. Partis commented that “Starting in Encore Strings and then going up to CCYO I had a wonderful time playing challenging music that I don’t play in school and playing with a full orchestra.” And she added “I will miss it after 8 years, but I will be sure to come back for the concerts!”

Ella Gerstman, violist, will be attending the University of Texas, Austin to major in Mathematics. Ella said “I would like to use my instrument to join small groups to make friends. I have been in CCYO since I was in 8th grade and it has been a lot of fun. I have met a lot of people and learned a lot of skills through music that I will be able to use throughout my life. Specifically, teamwork is something that CCYO has honed for me.”

CCYO’s Principal Violist, Kyle Anderson plans to take a gap year to continue to practice his instrument and then apply to music conservatories to continue his musical studies. Kyle said “CCYO has been a wonderful experience over the time I’ve been there.  As someone from Prince Georges County, it is an interesting change of pace to perform at venues such as the Charles County Fair as we have in the past.” Kyle will be competing at CCYO’s Concerto Competition on June 5 at Christ Church, La Plata.

Autumn Smith, the other CCYO graduating cellist, will be attending North Carolina A&T State University with a full academic scholarship, majoring in Computer Engineering as a member of the Honors Program. “I intend on continuing my musical journey through consistent practice and getting involved in the music groups on my college campus.” Autumn said and added “Throughout the past six years, transitioning from Encore Strings to CCYO as a middle schooler, I have grown tremendously. Not just as a musician, but as a person. I have truly enjoyed my time in both ensembles, and I will miss all the smiling faces and wonderful talent. Hopefully I can return as a guest cellist when I come home from school!” In addition to performing with CCYO, Autumn participated in CCYO’s inaugural Chamber Music Festival in 2020.

Dr. Osman Kivrak, Director of CCYO, commented “I am told that music and math uses the same side of the brain and they go together: if you are good at one you are good at the other. I don’t know how much of this is proven but I believe that both music and science require tremendous amount of discipline.  If one has the discipline to learn to play an instrument, they will be able to master other academics as well. I am very excited to see that the success of our graduating seniors demonstrates the importance of practicing, hard work and good study habits. Dr Kivrak added “I am very proud of all of them and wish them a very successful and exciting journey in the next part of their educational lives. We will miss them.”

The Charles County Youth Orchestra is one of the largest youth organizations in Southern Maryland providing music education and performance opportunities for talented young musicians in Charles County, Prince Georges County, St. Mary’s County and Calvert County.

The Charles County Youth Orchestra is sponsored in part by grants from the Charles County Arts Alliance, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Rotary Club of La Plata, MD and the Knights of Columbus of Accokeek, MD. Other major contributors include Potters Violins, Gailes Violin Shop, Bullock’s Piano Salon East and the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center of La Plata.

Charles County Youth Orchestra, Osman Kivrak, Director

Celebrates Its Graduating Seniors

Saturday, May 21 at 5:00 P.M.

To Be Held At

 Alice Ferguson Foundation

2001 Bryan Point Rd, Accokeek, MD

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