A new Glendale Youth Orchestra, having selected a musical director two weeks ago, will begin auditions in September.
Joe Lazara, president of the nonprofit organization, said he hopes that the group will provide "a social experience at a time when other outside interests begin taking over."
Sponsors are planning concerts at amusement parks and local events for the first year. Lazara predicted that the orchestra someday will make international tours.
Musicians with a minimum of two years experience who are studying privately are eligible, including youths from surrounding communities. Weekly rehearsals and two concerts are scheduled the first year.
Lazara and the rest of the organization are targeting sixth- to ninth-grade musicians. Sponsors hope that the orchestra will make them lifelong classical music enthusiasts.
A preliminary budget of $15,000 has been set for the first year, Lazara said.
Lazara said that although area businesses are being approached for donations, in the future the group would like to function only on funds generated by tuition.
Previously, Pasadena's youth orchestra had attracted Glendale-area students who sought an orchestral experience beyond that found in public schools but found none nearby. Lazara and the new youth orchestra's board of directors hope to change that.
Lazara, a father of two young musicians, said now "there is a place for children to have that experience close to home."
Shirley Seeley, administrative director of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra, said the existence of a youth group will fill in holes that exist in the training of the area's young musicians.
"There's a real need for it," said Seeley, who has headed the orchestra since 1977. She said that at the junior high school level, funding cuts have hurt efforts to provide training. "There's not the all-out effort there was in the past."
But the program's role is not to be that of stand-in for school programs.
"We want to extend" what is offered in schools, "not to replace it," Lazara said. Ideally, the orchestra would be composed of 60 to 80 musicians after the auditions, he said.
Conductor/violinist Lois Johnson, who revived the San Fernando Valley Symphony four years ago, was named music director June 7. Among her tasks will be to keep her charges' attention while honing their musical skills.
"I'm not going to approach it as if they are going to be professionals," Johnson said. "A lot of kids don't know whether they're going to be professionals. But we just want to give them a high level of musicianship.
"I want them to appreciate music but also the hard work that goes with it," she said. "It can't be way down on their priority list. If there's a party that they want to go to, but they have to go to orchestra practice, well, they better be at orchestra practice."
The orchestra will charge an audition fee of $15 and annual tuition is $100 per student. A new group called Friends of the GYO will charge members an annual fee of $25.