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Founded in 1969 as Training Orchestra, Inc., Gemini Youth Orchestras consists of a fully instrumented symphony orchestra, a philharmonia, two string orchestras, and a wind ensemble. Professional conductors complemented by a professional coaching staff create a demanding yet supportive program that challenges students to mature and grow.
From its first rehearsal in 1969, Training Orchestra has continued to provide young musicians the opportunity to study and perform under professional direction and guidance. Through all the changes that some 50 years bring - new musicians and staff, a dizzying variety of rehearsal and performance venues, and even changes in name - Paul Rudoff's vision for a program to serve the musically gifted children of Long Island has remained constant.
Paul Rudoff's passion for conducting, his love of working with children, and his desire to find a way for young musicians to play side by side with professionals led to the founding of Training Orchestra in 1969. The program began under the auspices of the Huntington Symphony. Many of the symphony's members were coaches and their children were among the first students. The office was in Anne Sanderson's home in Huntington.
Over the years, rehearsals and concerts have been held in locations all over Long Island: in the Huntington, Smithtown, Ronkonkoma, Jericho, Mineola, Farmingdale, East Islip, Hauppauge, and Half Hollow Hills School Districts, at St. Elizabeth's Church (Huntington), at Friends Elementary School in Westbury, and at Five Towns College in Dix Hills. Gemini Youth Orchestras currently rehearses at the Long Island School for the Gifted in South Huntington.
By the mid-seventies there were separate Nassau and Suffolk orchestras, each with its own junior orchestra. In 1985 a Saturday program, the Chamber Music Workshop, was established. Many well-known artists appeared as soloists with the chamber orchestra before it was disbanded in 1992 due to Paul Rudoff's illness. In the late eighties Training Orchestra took on a new identity, renaming the twin orchestras the Gemini Youth Orchestras. Nationally known conductor Kenneth Klein was appointed music director for the 1991-92 season and Gail Rinaudo became conductor of the reorganized junior orchestra, the Gemini Youth Concert Orchestra, in 1992-93. Stephen Rogers Radcliffe succeeded Kenneth Klein in 1993, serving as music director and GYS conductor until 1996. The baton passed to maestro Kimbo Ishii-Eto in the fall of 1996, Amir Kats in 2001, Michael Adelson in 2003 (and 2008), Michael Canipe in 2005, Matthew Pierce in 2007 and later, David Ramael and other celebrated conductors. As time went by and the program grew to a five-ensemble offering, an artistic director role was replaced with a collaborative dynamic between the GYO ensemble conductors, who are currently Andrew Perea, Michael Canipe, Matthew Pierce, and Harry Marenstein.
Performing with Professionals
Working with professional soloists is an important part of a Gemini student's musical experience. The Gemini Youth Symphony has featured guest soloists including Stanley Drucker, Philip Smith, and Lorne Monroe of the New York Philharmonic; cellist Timothy Eddy, violinists Raymond Gniewek, Renee Jolles, pianists Cecilia Brauer, Jose Ramos-Santana, John Musto, Jeffrey Biegel and Yu Zhang, flautist Samuel Baron, and the Guild Trio. Guest conductors have included the renowned David Amram, and the returns of Maestros Radcliffe and Klein. Gemini musicians have performed all over the New York area: Carnegie Hall (1996 and 2004), Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall (1999 and 2008) and Alice Tully Hall (the first performance for all GYO groups in a single concert at a major venue in 2007, and also in 2009), Sony Center in Manhattan, Tilles Center, Staller Center, and the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Garden City). Summer appearances have included the Gurwin Jewish Geriatric Center (GFW benefit), Heckscher Park and the Long Island Mozart Festival.
Reaching out within this country and abroad, GYO helped sponsor the New Orleans String Project (2007-08), with our musicians appearing as guests in the Crescent City; while our families hosted both the Auckland Youth Symphony (September 2008) and the Uruguayan National Youth Orchestra "Jose Artigas" (November 2008), both of which appeared with GYO groups in concert.
Gemini musicians have had the opportunity to work with the Long Island Philharmonic and Philharmonic Chorus, New York Philharmonic, Long Island Baroque Ensemble, the Bach Aria Festival and Opera in a Nutshell with the New York City Opera.
Many Gemini graduates have attended premier music schools and perform in orchestras and chamber ensembles both here and abroad. Others choose careers in music education, or combine teaching and performance. Many former Gemini musicians continue to play in college and community groups while pursuing other careers. The love of music and the joy of performing and listening seem to remain with Gemini graduates no matter what career path they choose.