Weiser Youth Symphony has grown and expanded into two groups

Denise Rasmussen founded the Weiser Youth Symphony (WYS) in 2011, with 20 members on stage. Rasmussen shared that in that first year, a very gracious audience of around 75 people watched their first concert. 
 Over the years, the group and audience have grown and in January, 2022, the Orchestra divided into two groups. The Weiser Youth Orchestra (WYO) was formed as a string orchestra at an intermediate level and the Idaho Heritage Symphony (IHS) was then officially established as a full orchestra of adults and advanced students playing standard orchestral repertoire. Both the WYO and the IHS are preparing for their upcoming spring concerts. 
 Rasmussen founded the WYS with the goal of being a full orchestra aimed to the youth, giving both string players and band students the opportunity to gain experience playing in a full orchestra. It began with ages 12 to beginning adult players with some experienced musicians serving as mentors.
 Over the years the Weiser Youth Symphony has performed three to four concerts each season with Christmas, Classical and Pops style concerts. Most have been performed at the auditorium in the Snake River Heritage Center (SRHC), with some outdoors in Weiser and at the bandshell in Payette, and a few at the Four Rivers Cultural Center combined with the Treasure Valley Symphony.
 Rasmussen shared that because the group called the Snake River Heritage Center home, they invested time and materials into the renovation of the auditorium. It began with an extension of the stage to fit more musicians, and led to a new sound system, professional stage lighting, new carpet, new upholstery, new window coverings, orchestra chairs and an air conditioning system. All this was made possible by grants, Eagle Scout Projects, private donors, and a lot of volunteered labor.
 With each season, the symphony gained new players and would say goodbye and good luck to graduating seniors. Along the way, the group gained more adults, and they were able to take on more and more challenging music, broadening both experience and their appeal to an audience that continued to multiply.
 Because of the growth, Rasmussen shared that it became evident at the end of last season that a change would need to happen to accommodate the participation and the needs of the individuals of the orchestra. 
 In the fall of 2021, practices were held in two different locations on two different evenings to accommodate the numbers and in December, the group performed their Christmas concert at Four Rivers Cultural Center with record numbers of over 50 orchestra members and a choir of 20 adults, performing to an audience of close to 500 people. Rasmussen felt that the division of the group into two levels would better fit the needs of all members of the group. 
 The WYO is open to all string students with a couple years’ experience/lessons on their instrument. The group continues to flourish and will perform their spring concert on April 15 at the SRHC. They will present “Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals” They will also feature accomplished, Daniel Rasmussen as a cello soloist playing “Saint-Saens’ The Swan” and also “Tarantella” by Squire. Admission is at the door: $10/general and $5/children under 12 years old.
 The newly formed Idaho Heritage Symphony draws musicians of all ages from a large area including Cambridge, Fruitland, Parma, Meridian, Ontario and Nyssa. They will perform their debut concert the next night, on April 16: classical program including Brahm’s Symphony No. 2, William Tell, and the Poet and Peasant Overture, among others.  The performance will also be at the SRHC and admission at the door is $15/person.
 “We look forward to sharing great music with Weiser and the surrounding communities for many years through these two orchestras. Our mission is to bring people together to learn, enjoy and be exposed to great works from composers past and present. We love what we do and hope you will join us at our concerts,” Rasmussen said. 
 Anyone interested can find more information by visiting their website at www.idahoheritagesymphony.org.  The groups are also both on Facebook and Instagram or you can contact the director, Denise Rasmussen, 208-550-0028. 


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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