BYSO Celebrate Opening of New BYSO Youth Center for Music in Heart of Boston’s Arts Community

Special to the Sun

Celebrating a singular moment in its more than 65-year existence, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) welcomed the community Tuesday evening to the newly-opened BYSO Youth Center for Music, a state-of-the-art rehearsal and gathering space located in the center of Boston’s arts community. The opening of the newly renovated building at 235 Huntington Ave., across the street from Symphony Hall, marks BYSO’s first perma-nent home since the organization’s inception.

“As someone who spent many years playing violin in school orchestras, I cherish the growth and development that young people experience from arts education,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. “This new, stunning home for the BYSO will foster musicianship, leadership, and relationships that will last a lifetime for our students—right across the street from one of the world’s best orchestras. Congratulations to the BYSO and all the community members who helped make this possible.”

“The growth of our organization made this both a necessity and possibility,” said BYSO Music Director Federi-co Cortese. “This milestone is the beginning of a new phase for Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. The success of the last five years is just a mirror of the next 35 years…this is the first step, not the final course.”

The new home is the culmination of a vision long shared by Cortese and CEO Catherine Weiskel. When they began their tenure at BYSO in the 1990’s, they worked diligently with the BYSO Board of Directors to create a permanent place for students to grow, nurture their musical excellence and personal development, and foster the next generation of leaders. Since its inception over 65 years ago, BYSO has rehearsed at Boston Universi-ty’s College of Fine Arts and, as it has expanded in recent years, at additional locations around Greater Boston.

“The seeds for this day were planted by generations of incredibly talented students, teachers and staff who have always been at the center of the work we do at BYSO,” said Weiskel. “Now we have a home that’s truly worthy of them all. This building creates a presence for BYSO in the heart of our city’s arts community, allow-ing future generations of students from all backgrounds to pursue artistic excellence among our city’s most prestigious and iconic musical institutions.”

“The wonderful thing about arts education is that it teaches so many lessons hyper critical to each student in whatever they choose to do,” said Keith Lockhart, Conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Boston Pops. “Being in an organization like BYSO brings out the best in people. It teaches young people self-discipline, to take a talent and then turn it into a skill. It teaches them how to be a part of something that is so much bigger than any of us individually can be.”

The renovated building, located adjacent to the reflecting pool on the Christian Science Plaza, was originally built and designed in 1971 by the renowned architectural firm I.M. Pei & Associates. BYSO’s renovation includ-ed a significant upgrade to the existing large auditorium, the creation of 10 new practice rooms, two new medium-size rooms for chamber orchestras and sectional rehearsals, and new acoustical treatments throughout the building to create exceptional rehearsal spaces for their students. Additional upgrades were made to meet ADA acces-sible codes. The year-long renovation was spearheaded by the Peregrine Group in partnership with Consigli Construction, Sasaki Architects, Odeh Engineers, and Threshold Acoustics.

BYSO’s new home will significantly expand its 25-year-old Intensive Community Program (ICP), which aims to remove barriers that prevent students from communities traditionally underrepresented in classical music from accessing high-quality musical opportunities. The nationally recognized program provides financial aid for orchestra tuition, weekly lessons, instrument access and other resources. More than 90% of students who come to ICP as young children stay with BYSO through high school, with 100% who stay in the program graduating from high school.

BYSO Student Ambassador Regiana Toussaint, a 16-year-old trumpet player from the Hyde Park neighbor-hood of Boston says, “I’ve been able to walk through this building with a hard hat all during the renovations, and I can’t believe how incredible it looks. I am so excited to start making music in this space, but I’m also so excited for all the younger kids that will call it home. This space is for everyone.”

BYSO rehearsals have begun in the new space, and the organization will open its doors to the public at the BYSO Youth Center for Music Opening Day celebration on Saturday, May 11th.

Established in 1958, the mission of Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) is to encourage musical excellence in a professional and supportive environment by providing the highest quality orchestra training and performance opportunities to qualified musicians, grades K-12, and making its programs accessible to underserved communities through financial assistance and outreach. BYSO is one of the most prestigious, comprehensive, and remarkable youth orchestras in the nation, comprising three full symphonic orchestras, two young string training orchestras, a preparatory wind program, chamber music program and nationally recognized Intensive Community Program (ICP) providing rigorous instruction to students from underrepre-sented communities. Each year BYSO auditions approximately 900 students and serves nearly 600 children, ages 4-18, from Greater Boston and throughout New England. BYSO and its partners are makers of music, defenders of curiosity and champions of courage, celebrating the brilliance of classical music and the gift of human connection both in standing out and finding one’s place in the world. BYSO has performed at prestigious venues across the world including the White House, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and Symphony Hall. In 2024, BYSO moved into its first permanent home, the BYSO Youth Center for Music in Boston.

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