The graduating seniors of the Charles County Youth Orchestra, Eileen Browning, Sam Chernoff, Candace Jackson, Sidney Lewis, Blythe McCammon, and Kelsey Njembu were honored at the CCYO concert on Saturday, May 15.

Credit: Charles County Youth Orchestra

Blythe McCammon, violinist and a member of CCYO for six years, will attend Towson University to major in Violin Performance. She reminisced that “I remember walking into my first rehearsal as a 7th grader and experiencing intimidation as I have never experienced before. Everyone was so much older and so much better than I was. But after that first rehearsal, the intimidation dissolved, and I had already made friends. CCYO has helped me grow so much as a person and as a musician. CCYO gives students musical opportunities that are not offered elsewhere. Without CCYO, I don’t think I would’ve had the musical stimulation I needed to pursue my dreams and continue my musical journey in college.”

Eileen Browning, cellist, will attend Florida State University in the fall to major in Physics and Astrophysics and plans to continue playing cello in college. She has also been with CCYO for six years and commented, ” I have loved every concert and rehearsal of CCYO. It’s a community of players that I will miss very much. “

Sam Chernoff, clarinetist, will attend Emory University to major in Quantitative Sciences and his musical goal in college is to establish a Pep Band at Emory. Throughout his four years in CCYO, he says that he enjoyed the” ability to challenge me through playing more classical pieces in a full orchestra.”

Kelsey Njembu, violinist, will attend Johns Hopkins University to study Neuroscience and Music on a pre-med track. Kelsey, a CCYO member for 3 years, commented that “CCYO was a wonderful, enriching experience. I never thought I would be able to play the repertoire that we perform, but being in CCYO has proved otherwise.”

Candace Jackson, a cellist, will attend Howard University to major in Music. Not only did Candace perform with the orchestra, but she also participated in both of CCYO’s Chamber Music Festivals. She was a member of a quartet that advanced to the Washington Performing Arts Society Misbin Chamber Music Competition finals. In addition, she performed at CCYO’s Secret Garden Concerts at Christ Church last summer.

 Sidney Lewis, violinist, will attend Towson University and plans on minoring in Music. She remarked that “the orchestra is absolutely amazing here!”

Dr. Osman Kivrak, Director of CCYO, commented, “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 enormously 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.”

Upcoming CCYO events include the third annual Concerto Competition Concert on June 4 at 3 pm at Christ Church, La Plata, performances by all four CCYO ensembles at Arts Fest in La Plata on June 11at noon, and the 2022 CCYO Chamber Music Festival from July 12 to 30 with concerts at Christ Church, La Plata, on July 16, 23 and 30 at 8 pm. In addition, various CCYO chamber music ensembles are performing at local events such as Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Pinot on the Potomac and the Charles County Arts Alliance Annual member meeting.

CCYO is one of the largest youth organizations in Southern Maryland, providing music education and performance opportunities for talented young musicians ages 8 to 18 in Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties.

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 Charles County, MD, the Charles County Charitable Trust, and the Knights of Columbus of Accokeek, MD. Other major contributors include Potters Violins, Gailes Violin Shop, and the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center of La Plata and generous donations from individuals.


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