History of  MCYO Through the Years

The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO) of Strathmore, formerly the Montgomery County Youth Orchestras, has a long and eventful history. Founded in 1946, MCYO has continued a vibrant orchestral program for talented youth.The mission of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras is to nurture, develop and advance young talented musicians in a quality orchestral program. The MCYO program creates a seamless connection between the artistic and the educational experience. MCYO now enjoys its first permanent home in the grand Music Center at Strathmore. Over the years, MCYO has added several ensembles to expand its outreach to talented youth. With the help and support of public school music teachers, private school music teachers, and private studio music teachers, the caliber and number of musicians has increased dramatically. The Symphony was formed in 1964, the Young Artists in 1972, the Chamber Strings in 1995, the Harp Ensemble in 2001, and the Sinfonia in 2004. Currently there are over 400 young musicians involved in MCYO selected from over 1200 aspiring musicians.Many honors have been bestowed upon MCYO. In 1964, in Philadelphia, the Philharmonic performed at the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Bicentennial Conference. In 1969, the Philharmonic was the first American orchestra to perform at the International Festival of Youth in Switzerland. In 1981, the Philharmonic was the first youth orchestra to be showcased at the Kennedy Center. Hundreds of thousands of listeners, live and on the radio, heard the Philharmonic on the WMAL Christmas Eve day concert, “Live from the Kennedy Center.” This was a longstanding tradition through 2003. In 1987, the Symphony was selected to perform at the MENC Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. In 1995, the Philharmonic and Symphony toured England and Wales. Later that year, the Philharmonic was invited to and performed at the prestigious Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Two years later, the Philharmonic again performed at the MENC Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. In 1999, the Philharmonic traveled to Austria, touring four cities as part of the Johann Strauss Centennial Celebration. In 2000, the Philharmonic was one of twenty music ensembles from across the USA selected from over two hundred applicants to perform at the MENC National Conference in Washington, DC. In June 2002, the Philharmonic made its Carnegie Hall debut in New York City. Also, in 2002, MCYO changed its name from Montgomery County Youth Orchestras to Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras keeping the acronym MCYO.

Philharmonic members annually perform with the National Symphony on the NSO Youth Orchestra Day. Select MCYO musicians participate in the NSO Fellowship program, and participate in master classes with renowned soloists and teachers. From 1996, various MCYO musicians have performed with the National Symphony Summer Music Institute. Since 1997, select MCYO musicians have augmented the National Festival Orchestra in New York City, performing with college, conservatory and select high school musicians from across the US and Canada in Carnegie Hall.

Many MCYO alumni have continued their music studies at preeminent institutions. Some have performed with prestigious American and European Orchestras and some have become music teachers. MCYO has made its mark on the music world!

  • 1946 – The Montgomery County Youth Orchestra was founded by Mr. Chester Petranek to meet the needs of gifted musicians in the county.
  • 1964 – The MCYO expanded to two orchestras, adding the  Junior Symphony, naming the Youth Symphony to Senior.  MCYO was then named Montgomery County Youth Orchestras.
  • 1965 – The MCYO started a summer camp, which became the Maryland Center for the Arts.
  • 1969 – MCYO performed at the First International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Switzerland.
  • 1972 – MCYO traveled to Europe,  The orchestra played in Vienna, Ljublyana, Salzburg and Erlangen.
  • 1972 – The Prep Orchestra (now Young Artists) was formed to include younger musicians.
  • 1977 – MCYO performed at the first American Festival of Youth Orchestras.
  • 1981 – The Senior Orchestra (now Philharmonic) began performing annually with WMAL’s Christmas Eve live broadcast from the Kennedy Center.
  • 1987 – The Junior Orchestra (now Symphony)  performed at the MENC Eastern Division Conference.
  • 1993 – Chester Petranek became MCYO Music Director and Conductor Emeritus.
  • 1994 – Olivia Gutoff was appointed Artistic Director and Senior Orchestra Conductor.
  • 1995 – MCYO began its 50th year with a Concert Tour to England and Wales.
  • 1995 – MCYO added the String Ensemble (now Chamber Strings), now serving the youngest musicians.
  • 1995 – The Senior Orchestra performed at the Mid-West International Band & Orchestra Clinic.
  • 1996 – The 50th Anniversary Concert premiered Andreas Makris’ “Antithesis.”
  • 1999 – The season closed with a Senior Orchestra Concert Tour through Austria.
  • 2000The Montgomery County Senior Youth Orchestra  performed at the MENC 57th National Biennial In-Service Conference.
  • 2000 – The Senior Orchestra premiered the World Premiere of “Echoes of a Forgotten Dream”, a composition commissioned by Joseph J. McIntrye especially for the MENC Conference.
  • 2001 – A business plan is developed in preparation for expansion into Strathmore Hall, and MCYO hires its first executive director.
  • 2002 – The Senior Orchestra performed in Carnegie Hall.
  • 2002 – MCYO is renamed to
    Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras.
  • 2005 – Historic move to the Music Center at Strathmore
  • 2007 – Longtime Artistic Director and Philharmonic Conductor Olivia Gutoff retires.  David Levin begins as the next Philharmonic Conductor.
  • 2009 – MCYO Tours in Vienna and Prague
  • 2009 – MCYO adds the Chamber Orchestra, brand new orchestra for 9-11th grade musicians.
  • 2010 -MCYO adds the Preparatory Strings ensemble, new string orchestra for 3-5th grade musicians.
  • 2010 -MCYO Tours in London!
  • 2011 -MCYO Performs in Carnegie Hall!
  • 2013 -MCYO Tours in Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium!
  • 2013 -Chamber Orchestra is re-organized as Chamber Ensemble! A brand new string only ensemble for 9th and 10th grade musicians!
  • 2015 -MCYO merges with The Music Center at Strathmore
  • 2015 -MCYO Tours LA for the West Coast Festival.