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Peninsula Youth Orchestra Winter Concert is Sunday

Posted on February 3rd, 2023 By:

One of Gig Harbor’s secret musical treasures performs at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Peninsula High School auditorium.

Peninsula Youth Orchestra is the Gig Harbor area’s only performance group for stringed instruments. It offers four orchestras, based on age and skill levels.

All four PYO ensembles, with more than 60 kids ranging in age from 7 to 19, will perform in Sunday’s Winter Concert.

On the program

The high school-level Youth Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Underwood, will perform the fugue from “L’estro Armonico” by Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach; “Dies Irae” from Mozart’s Requiem; “Aubade” from Symphony for Strings No. 1 by Jeffrey S. Bishop and “The Idylls of Pegasus” by Richard Meyer.

The Junior Orchestra, for junior high-level musicians, will play “Hopak” by Mussorgsky; “Celtic Overture” by Lennie Niehaus; “Rondo Presto” from String Quartet K.157 by Mozart and “Danse Infernal” by Elliot Del Borgo.

The two beginning level orchestras – the Encore and Debut groups – will also show off what they’re learning. The pieces they’re playing “aren’t really pieces the audience might be familiar with,” PYO Executive Director Noelle Brambila said. “But it’s a wonderful opportunity to root the kids on in their musical growth.”

The Peninsula Youth Orchestra


A group of parents and music teachers formed the non-profit Peninsula Youth Orchestra Association in 1998 to provide training and performance opportunities for local kids who wanted to play violin, viola, cello or bass.

Then as now, local schools did not offer string programs. But some local kids liked those instruments.

PYO attracts young musicians from as far away as Puyallup and Bremerton.

Many of the youngest players, in the Encore and Debut groups, have never before played an instrument.

Older members have varying skill and experience levels and make up the Junior and Youth orchestras.

State-certified music instructors provide instruction during the school year. In the summer, PYO hosts a weeklong all-levels string camp that culminates in a summer concert. This year’s summer camp is scheduled for August. 

In addition to several seasonal concerts, PYO recently held a Concerto Competition for members of the high school and junior high orchestras. The winners will be featured in this year’s Spring Concert.

Junior Orchestra violinist Jack Newhouse won the junior leverl concerto competition.

Music can change lives

Spencer Hutchins, recently elected to the state House of Representatives representing the 26th Legislative District, was in the very first PYO orchestra a quarter century ago.

Hutchins started playing violin as a 10-year old.PYO was his first foray into playing traditional, classical music with a group.

“It was so formative,” Hutchins said in a phone conversation. “I had never played in an ensemble before and in that first rehearsal I couldn’t keep up. My heart fell – it was such a struggle. But after a few more rehearsals, I got more confident and it turned into joy, and I’m just so glad that I was able to have that experience.

“Playing orchestral music became one of my most meaningful and fervent passions when I was growing up. It was a springboard for me in so many ways and even today I’m aware of how important it was in my social life, my intellectual life and creatively.”

Hutchins went on to play in the Tacoma Youth Symphony Orchestra and continued playing in ensembles through college. Later he was president of the TYSO board of directors. Today, in addition to his legislative duties, he’s a member of the Peninsula Youth Orchestra board. And he still plays his violin whenever he can, including at his church.

“Playing in those orchestras opened doors that led to my passion for community service,” Hutchins said. “It’s a thread that connects to so many things because it connected me with other people.”

Auditions for the four PYO orchestras are open now through Feb. 15. For information visit the orchestra website or email [email protected]

Want to go?

What: Peninsula Youth Orchestra Winter Concert

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5

Where: Auditorium at Peninsula High School, 14105 Purdy Drive.

Also: Admission is free. Post-concert refreshments will be provided by Altrusa.

Kinda Gonsalves (viola) and Kellen Gonsalves (cello) won the Peninsula Youth Orchestra’s recent Youth Concerto competition.