Four talented Charles County Youth Orchestra (CCYO) students have been recognized with prestigious music awards. The recipients include Esther Bonney, Scarlett de Leon, Haley Gruwell, and Autumn-Sky Leroy, all honored for their exceptional skills and contributions to music.

Autumn-Sky Leroy, a violinist, received two awards: the 2023 Dreamers Instrument Access Program, which granted her a violin, and the Washington Musical Pathways program, providing free private lessons, mentoring by nationally recognized musicians, chamber music coaching, and music theory classes.

Scarlett de Leon, also a violinist, was awarded a scholarship to fund her music lessons by the D.C. Federation of Musicians, Local 161-710. Fellow violinist Esther Bonney and flutist Haley Gruwell were accepted into the distinguished National Symphony Orchestra Youth Fellowship program for the 2023-24 season. This will be Gruwell’s second year as an NSO Youth Fellow. The program offers high school students in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area the opportunity to study with a National Symphony Orchestra musician, observe rehearsals and concerts, rehearse with the NSO, and engage in chamber music ensembles, master classes, and discussions with musicians, guest artists, and NSO/Kennedy Center management.

The CCYO has announced auditions for the 2023-2024 season to be held on September 9. Interested individuals can find more information here.

In addition to individual honors, the CCYO has been spotlighted in an online film by the Charles County Arts Alliance and featured on WTOP radio. Two CCYO String Quartets were finalists in the esteemed Washington Performing Arts Society Misbin Chamber Music Competition in Washington, D.C.

The CCYO, one of the largest youth organizations in Southern Maryland, is known for its extensive engagement in community events. Each year, CCYO presents two large concerts, numerous smaller concerts, a two-week Chamber Music Festival, a Concerto Competition Concert, masterclasses, and sectionals for students in all four ensembles. The CCYO ensembles have recently performed at various venues, including the Port Tobacco Courthouse, Alice Ferguson Foundation, Nanjemoy Community Center, and more. They have also played a pivotal role in fundraising for victims of the Turkey-Syria Earthquake through a triumphant concert at Christ Church, La Plata.

Serving talented young musicians aged 8 to 18 in Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Calvert counties, the CCYO’s mission is amplified by grants and support from the Charles County Arts Alliance, the Charles County Charitable Trust, the Maryland State Arts Council, the Rotary Club of Charles County, MD, the Knights of Columbus of Accokeek, MD, and various local businesses and individual donors.

The recognition and accomplishments of these four CCYO students highlight the organization’s dedication to nurturing young talent and providing valuable opportunities in music education and performance.

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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