The West Island Youth Symphony Orchestra (WIYSO) is an orchestra for youth operating in the West Island area of Montreal, Quebec. It consists of two orchestras led by experienced professional musicians: the Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stewart Grant, is for youth aged 12-25 years, and the String Orchestra, conducted by Jean Ai Seow, is for youth aged 9-16.
WIYSO presents many concerts each season, including its own three-concert subscription series, its annual Christmas benefit concert for West Island Community shares, and other performances in the West Island area and beyond.
WIYSO is a member of the Association des orchestres de jeunes du Québec (AOJQ). The AOJQ was formed to establish links between youth orchestras in Quebec and to promote the musical education of youths and the development of new youth orchestras. Every two years WIYSO attends the music festival organized by the AOJQ. This festival brings together youth orchestras from Quebec for three intensive days of rehearsals and performances under the leadership of guest conductors from around the world.
The mission of the orchestra is to give young people the opportunity to develop their musical talent by playing in a symphonic orchestra under the direction of a professional conductor, and to share the joy of symphonic music with their community and with each other.
This experience will serve them throughout their lives, whether they become professional musicians, educators, enthusiastic amateurs or simply insightful listeners.
OUR ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM
The fully bilingual Orchestras are administered by a strong team of dedicated volunteer parents and other community members.
The Board of Directors is responsible for all aspects of the administration of the Orchestra. They are elected every fall at the Annual General Meeting by members of the WIYSO Organization for a two-year renewable term. Two musicians' representatives are elected by fellow members of the Symphony Orchestra for a one-year renewable term.
WIYSO Board of Directors 2016-2017
In 1985 at the urging of the mayors of Pointe-Claire, Pierrefonds and Kirkland, and with the assistance of the Conseil des Arts de Montréal, a small group of volunteers pooled their efforts, determined to create a youth orchestra that would do their entire region proud.
In May 1986 the Orchestra played its first concerts at St. Joachim Church in Pointe-Claire and Ste. Geneviève Church in Ste. Geneviève under the baton of its first conductor, Carole Corman.
Since then the Orchestra has been led by Véronique Lacroix, Giuseppe Pietraroia and, since 1999, Stewart Grant.
The String Orchestra, an ensemble for musicians aged 9 to 16, was added to the fold in 1988. Directed by Jean Ai Seow, its purpose is to encourage younger musicians in their musical studies while preparing them to join the Senior Orchestra.
Members of the orchestra take part in a full range of activities, both musical and social.
Rehearsals take place each Sunday from September to May, with some exceptions for public holidays etc. They are held in the Centre Noël-Legault, 245 Lakeshore, Pointe-Claire (map), a branch of the City of Pointe-Claire's Cultural Center.
The Symphony Orchestra rehearses from 2 to 5 p.m., and the String Orchestra from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. In addition to full orchestra rehearsals led by the conductor, there are occasional sectionals led by our professional coaches.
Chamber music ensembles
Various small ensembles, such as string quartets and duos, woodwind and brass ensembles, are formed from the members of the Symphony Orchestra. These ensembles rehearse separately from the main orchestra and give public and private performances in addition to the regular orchestral concerts. To learn more about hiring one of the Orchestra's ensembles for an event, please contact WIYSO.
Travel and Exchanges
As a part of its mandate of exposing young musicians to as wide a musical experience as possible WIYSO takes part in various trips and exchanges.
1995 and 2001: the Orchestra traveled to France to take part in the Festival des Orchestrades Universelles de Brive-La-Gaillarde
2004: as part of an exchange with the Saskatoon Youth Orchestra, the Orchestra traveled to Saskatchewan and Banff, Alberta
2008: the Orchestra set forth on a 12-day European Tour which took the musicians and their artistic director on an unforgettable experience to the Czech Republic, Austria and Italy, where they performed in some of the most prestigious locations in the world.
2011: the Orchestra celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a European Tour to France and Switzerland
Every year the musicians spend a full weekend at a music camp, where they are exposed to an intensive period of rehearsing, interspersed with various social activities. This allows Orchestra members to bond while giving them many hours of quality musical training.
The Symphony Orchestra's annual retreat takes place in early fall and for the past number of years has been held at the Orford Arts Centre.
The String Orchestra camp takes place in late winter at an area youth camp such as Cap St-Jacques or Île-Perrot.
An essential part of playing classical music is understanding it. Several times a year, Monsieur Pierre Rose presents music appreciation sessions featuring audio-visual presentations on the pieces the Orchestra is currently rehearsing and their composers.
As a part of its annual intensive rehearsal day, the Orchestra holds a Concerto Competition. This is open to all the Symphony Orchestra musicians, who play a solo piece of their choice with piano accompaniment in front of their peers and an invited adjudicator. The winners of this competition are then invited to play as soloists at a WIYSO concert the following year, contingent on their continuing to be members of the orchestra.
THE JEAN MAY GRANT BURSARY
The Jean May Grant Bursary is an annual award instituted in memory of WIYSO Artistic Director Stewart Grant’s mother, who passed away in 2006. Mrs. Grant was for many years a dedicated and much loved teacher of music at Valois Park School and kindergarten at Sunnydale School. She was also a great fan of our orchestra.
The bursary takes the form of financial assistance to cover a musician’s orchestra fees for one season. All Senior Orchestra musicians are eligible. Musicians may apply themselves or be nominated by a fellow musician. The recipient is then selected by a vote by Board members.