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Members of the San Diego Youth Symphony (Photo: Ken Jacques)

Written by Johnny McDonald

Music is the universal language of mankind.”  —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The San Diego Youth Symphony (SDYS) ‘and Conservatory personifies a wide spectrum of musical fine-tuning for ensembles, solos, chamber and pre-professional concerts.

It’s at the Park’s Casa del Prado with rehearsal rooms for students, anywhere from ages 8 to 25. Its musical program is recognized as the sixth largest in the United States.

Concerts are performed throughout the region including such venues as Copley Symphony Hall, Jacobs Music Center and California Center for the Arts in Escondido.

Over 730 students auditioned last June for the chance to improve their skills with brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion instruments.

Music director Jeff Edmond said he was pleased by the turnout, but he still dreams of a much broader musical development program. He’d like to see school districts reopen the doors to music classes.

Edmond is encouraged by what has happened in the Chula Vista School district as a start.

“SDYS’ efforts to restore music education in the Chula Vista Elementary School District just took a big step forward with a commitment from Save The Music Foundation to provide musical instruments to every Chula Vista school that hires a full-time music teacher,” he said. “They [CVESD] now plan to restore music and arts to all 45 district campuses.

“SDYS is very proud to work in partnership with and in support of public school, private school and university music programs.”

According to Edmonds, most students who audition for the SDYS have already begun learning specific instruments through school or private instruction.

“The range of instruments is a full spectrum chosen by the students,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have the support of wonderful donors, patrons, corporations, partners, and grantors who provide additional financial support for the students in all of our programs.”

The advanced symphony gives many concerts in the park’s museums and at Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Other ensembles perform throughout San Diego County each season in settings for all audiences. Soloists will appear in more intimate recitals and community outreach events. For more information visit

—After an award winning, 38-year sports-writing career with the San Diego Union and authoring three books, Johnny McDonald now considers writing a hobby. You can reach him at

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San Diego Youth Symphony