La Plata, MD – In a captivating concert held on Sunday, May 21, the Charles County Youth Orchestra (CCYO) honored ten talented graduating seniors: Jasmin Ali, Christine Baker, Joseph Bonney, Kaylee Davis, Riley Dunbar, Helena Kijesky, Nathan Londres, James Olmsted, Lara Oribello, and Jaya Robinson. These young musicians showcased their exceptional skills and dedication to music during the memorable event.

The CCYO concert celebrated the achievements of its graduating seniors, highlighting their plans for the future. Two of the seniors, Riley Dunbar and Helena Kijesky, will pursue music as their major in college. Dunbar, an accomplished violinist, will be majoring in music composition at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music at Gettysburg College. Kijesky, proficient in flute, piano, and voice, will be majoring in Music and Psychology at the University of Mary in North Dakota. Reflecting on their time with CCYO, Dunbar expressed gratitude for the opportunity to play alongside talented peers, while Kijesky acknowledged the orchestra for broadening her musical experience.

Kaylee Davis, a clarinetist, was awarded a substantial music scholarship and will be attending Bowie State University. Alongside pursuing a degree in Nursing, Davis intends to perform with both the Concert and Jazz Bands, further nurturing her passion for music. Davis expressed her gratitude to CCYO for the challenging and enriching experiences it provided.

Four of the CCYO seniors will continue their education at the University of Maryland, College Park. James Olmsted and Nathan Londres, both skilled violinists, plan to major in Computer Science. Olmsted reflected on the positive impact CCYO had on his dedication to his instrument, while Londres praised the orchestra for challenging him in unique ways. Christine Baker and Jasmin Ali, violinists, will also attend the University of Maryland, College Park. Baker will pursue a major in Bioengineering, describing her six years with CCYO as an invaluable experience. Ali, who plans to major in the technology field, expressed her love for being part of CCYO and meeting fellow music enthusiasts. All four students intend to join a UMD orchestra, with Baker and Ali also aspiring to perform in a string quartet.

Jaya Robinson, a talented violinist, will attend Spelman College to study Documentary Filmmaking. Robinson fondly recalled her time with CCYO and expressed her appreciation for the rehearsal experiences that made it one of her favorite extracurricular activities.

Lara Oribello, a flutist, will embark on a journey at Salisbury University, pursuing a major in Elementary Education. Oribello acknowledged the significant impact CCYO had on her musical horizons, broadening her experiences by collaborating with musicians from different instrument families.

Joseph Bonney, a violist and winner of CCYO’s 2022 Concerto Competition, will serve as a missionary in Greece and Cyprus for two years before studying engineering in college. Bonney expressed his gratitude for his four years at CCYO, which fostered his appreciation for classical music and provided him with invaluable opportunities to play alongside his peers.

Dr. Osman Kivrak, Director of CCYO, commended the graduating seniors, highlighting the importance of practice, hard work, and good study habits. Dr. Kivrak expressed immense pride in their accomplishments and wished them success in their future educational endeavors.

Looking ahead, CCYO has two exciting events scheduled. The CCYO Concerto Competition Concert will take place on June 3 at 3 pm at Christ Church in La Plata. Additionally, the CCYO Chamber Music Festival will run from July 18 to July 29, featuring concerts on July 22 and 29 at Christ Church in La Plata.

CCYO has been receiving well-deserved recognition for its outstanding contributions to the musical community. The organization was recently featured in an online film by the Charles County Arts Alliance, showcasing its remarkable talent and dedication. Additionally, CCYO had the honor of being featured on WTOP radio, further solidifying its reputation as a prominent youth orchestra.

The achievements of CCYO’s string quartets deserve special mention, as they were selected as finalists in the esteemed Washington Performing Arts Society Misbin Chamber Music Competition in Washington, D.C. This recognition reflects the exceptional musical abilities and commitment to excellence exhibited by the young musicians of CCYO.

CCYO’s annual calendar is brimming with diverse musical opportunities for its members. The organization presents two large concerts each year and several smaller concerts. Furthermore, CCYO hosts a two-week Chamber Music Festival, allowing students to explore the intricacies of chamber music through additional concerts and enriching masterclasses and sectionals.

As one of the largest youth organizations in Southern Maryland, CCYO has been instrumental in providing aspiring young musicians, aged 8 to 18, with exceptional music education and performance opportunities. Serving Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties, CCYO continues to nurture and inspire the next generation of talented musicians in the region.

CCYO’s success and continued growth would not be possible without the generous support of its sponsors and donors. The Charles County Arts Alliance, the Charles County Charitable Trust, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Rotary Club of Charles County, MD, and the Knights of Columbus of Accokeek, MD, have all significantly sustained CCYO’s endeavors. Major contributors such as Potters Violins, Gailes Violin Shop, and the Neighborhood Creative Arts Center of La Plata have also made invaluable contributions.

The CCYO concert celebrating the graduating seniors serves as a testament to the organization’s commitment to excellence in music education. With their bright futures ahead, these talented young musicians are poised to impact their respective fields significantly. As they embark on their educational journeys, they carry with them the invaluable experiences and life lessons gained from their time at CCYO.

Dr. Osman Kivrak and Dr. Lazar, the dedicated directors of CCYO, have nurtured these students’ talents and instilled in them a passion for music. Their guidance and unwavering dedication have contributed to the success of CCYO and the achievements of its graduating seniors.

As the curtain closes on another remarkable chapter in CCYO’s history, the organization looks forward to its talented musicians’ continued growth and success. The graduating seniors have left an indelible mark on CCYO, and their departure will undoubtedly be felt. However, their legacy will inspire future generations of young musicians to pursue their dreams and excel in the world of music.

For more information about upcoming CCYO events, including the CCYO Concerto Competition Concert and the Chamber Music Festival, visit CCYO’s website.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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