Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra’s
Summer String Week 2024

Lutheran Church of St. Andrew
(15300 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20905)

Register for JUNIOR CAMP
Register for SENIOR CAMP
Tuition: $775

Sr. Strings Week: July 8 to July 12, 2024 – Rising 6th to 8th graders
Jr. Strings Week: July 8 to July 12, 2024 – Rising 3rd to 6th graders
For All-Star Strings Institute (ASSI) HS Program, please check this webpage.
Classes will be scheduled during the day between 9:00AM-3:00PM

Summer Camp is open for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass players

Summer String Week will enhance students’ musicianship and technical ability. The camp will include ensemble rehearsal with Maestro Dietrich Paredes & Alice Ju and our wonderful MCYO faculty. Musicians will also experience music history, theory, and composition through hands-on sessions. Students will also have performance and masterclass opportunities during camp week.

· String ensemble rehearsals with maestro Jorge Orozco, Alice Ju & sectionals with outstanding faculty
· Masterclasses and technique sessions
· Music writing and ear training in our fantastic composition lab
· Audition workshops and music history sessions

***Students will be required to bring their own bagged lunch, each day. No refrigeration will be provided.

All content will differ from prior camp sessions. Musicians from past summer camps are welcome back in Summer Strings Week!

Applicant Requirements:
SENIOR GROUP (students entering 6th – 8th grade)
· Participants must have taken private lessons for 4-5 years for Violins, 3-4 years for Viola & Cello, and 2 years for Bass.
· No separate audition is required for current MCYO musicians. Non-MCYO musicians will be asked to submit a video with their application. The video should include a solo piece of the student’s choice. It does not have to be a professional recording, a home recording is perfectly fine.

JUNIOR GROUP (students entering 3rd–6th grade)
· Participants must have taken private lessons for 2-3 years for violin and 2 years for viola, cello, and 1 year for bass.
· No separate audition is required for current MCYO musicians. Non-MCYO musicians will be asked to submit a video with their application. The video should include a solo piece of the student’s choice. It does not have to be a professional recording, a home recording is perfectly fine.
· All musicians must be able to read music.

Questions? Feel free to email all your summer camp questions to

Faculty List

MCYO Conductor

Dietrich Paredes, a distinguished conductor from Venezuela, has made significant contributions to the world of classical music through his dynamic leadership and innovative approach to orchestral performance. As a product of Venezuela’s renowned “El Sistema” program, Paredes has built an impressive international career, conducting various esteemed orchestras across the globe. Paredes began his notable tenure as the Music Director of the Caracas Youth Orchestra (CYO) in 2008. Under his direction, the CYO toured extensively throughout South America, Asia, and Europe, performing at prestigious venues and festivals such as the Salzburg Festival, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Dvorak Festival in Prague, the Beethovenfest in Bonn, and the Ravello Festival in Italy. Their performances were also highly acclaimed in cities like Zurich, Hamburg, Paris, Budapest, Vienna, Gothenburg, Zagreb, Barcelona, Castellón de la Plana, Zaragoza, Beijing, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and Seoul. His international career includes conducting engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (2012-2013), Orchestra della Toscana at the Cortona Festival (2014), which led to a re-invitation for their 2015-2016 subscription series in Florence. Additionally, Paredes has guest-conducted the orchestras of Teatro Comunale in Bologna, Opera di Roma, and the Maggio Musicale Festival for the Carlo Maria Giulini memorial concert with the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana. In the 2015-2016 season, he debuted with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Toulon Symphony Orchestra in France, and undertook extensive projects with the Australian Youth Orchestra. His engagements also included performances with I Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan, the Teatro Olimpico Orchestra in Vicenza, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Round Top Festival in Texas, the Orchestra Estágio Gulbenkian in Portugal, the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, and the Opera Carlo Felice di Genova in Italy. More recently, Paredes played a pivotal role in the New York Philharmonic’s weeklong celebration of music education in April 2024, commemorating the centennial of the Young People’s Concerts. He prepared a 95-member youth ensemble alongside the iconic maestro Gustavo Dudamel. This initiative, which culminated in a concert at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School, highlighted Paredes’ dedication to nurturing young talent and expanding the reach of classical music education. Since moving to Washington, D.C., in 2017, Paredes has been working with some of the most advanced musicians in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area, further solidifying his reputation as a leading conductor and educator in the classical music community.

MCYO Violin Coach

Hailing from North Carolina, Ms. Alice Ming-Yi Ju received her M.M. and B.M. in Violin Performance from the University of Maryland and M.A in Music Education from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She has attended the Killington Music Festival, Musicorda, Brevard Music Center and National Orchestral Institute. Her primary teachers include Kevin Lawrence, David Salness, the late Dr. Richard Luby and Eric Prtichard.

Ms. Ju is currently the Director of Orchestras at Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, NC. Before her appointment at Enloe, she was the Director of Orchestras at Green Hope High School in Cary, NC and Farmington High School in Farmington Hills, MI. Prior to the position in Michigan, she was on faculty at the prestigious Levine School of Music, an Orchestra Director in Fairfax County Public Schools, a Violin Sectional Coach for Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras, Violin Instructor for Vienna Summer Strings while maintaining a private violin studio and freelancing in the Washington D.C. area. In addition to being the Director of Orchestras at Enloe, Ms. Ju is a chamber music coach for the North Carolina Chamber Music Institute and violinist in the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and Magnolia String Quartet.

Levine School of Music Faculty
MCYO Cello Coach

Seth Castleton is a winner of the Brigham Young University Concerto Competition and has soloed with the BYU Philharmonic. He has also been a finalist in the University of Maryland Concerto Competition. He performs regularly with groups in the Washington D.C. area, such as the Apollo Chamber Orchestra and Alexandria Symphony. Mr. Castleton’s cello playing has taken him to several summer music festivals, including the National Orchestral Institute, Chautauqua, and Kent/Blossom Music. He teaches cello both in his private studio and at the Levine School of Music. Mr. Castleton has recently enjoyed collaborating with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra (MCYO) as a cello section coach. Mr. Castleton is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. He holds a M.M. in Cello Performance from the University of Maryland, and a B.M. in Cello Performance from Brigham Young University. He has studied cello with Evelyn Elsing, David Teie, Kenneth Slowik, Peter Wiley, Julie Bevan, and Stephen Geber. Apart from his love for music and the arts, Mr. Castleton enjoys spending time with his lovely wife, two-year-old son James, and newborn daughter Laura.


Born in St-Petersburg, Russia into a musical family, Vasily started playing the cello at the age of seven. His teachers included Natalia Gutman, Anatoly Nikitin, Walter Nothas, Daniil Shafran and Elisso Virsaladze (chamber music). Vasily was an associate principal cello with the Soloists of St. Petersburg chamber ensemble, the chamber orchestra founded by violinist Michael Gantwarg and cello section St.-Petersburg Philharmonic orchestra under Maestro Yuri Temirkanov in the nineties. He served on the cello faculty of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, Russia teaching cello and various classes helping the students to work on the orchestral excerpts. In 2000 he moved to Germany to complete his Artist Diploma in Munich Academy of Music. He performed chamber music frequently under Live Muisc Now and Villa Musica concert managements, maintained a small cello studio and played with the various chamber and symphony orchestras in Germany. Currently living in Washington DC, Mr. Popov serves on the cello and chamber music faculties of the Levine School of Music where he is also an associate chair of Chamber Music and is artistic director and conductor of the Levine Chamber Orchestras. Vasily’s passions are cello performance and teaching. He enjoys working with the young musicians and performs on stage with them frequently. Vasily’s cello and chamber students play in the youth, amateur and professional orchestras not only in the Washington DC area but also in Russia, Europe and Asia.

Vasily performs on a French cello made in 1870 presented to him by Stephen and Susan Low. Vasily also plays jazz, rock and contemporary music in on his Zeta electric cello. In the spare time Vasily enjoys working in his garden, composing music, reading, fixing the bowed string instruments as well as playing music and biking with his wife pianist Ralitza Patcheva and young sons violinist Yuri and cellist Vlad.

Talya Schenk, violist, is an active performer in the Washington, DC region. She earned a Doctor of Musical Arts from The Catholic University of America, a Master of Music from The Hartt School of the University of Hartford, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her teachers include Kimberly Sparr, Maria Lambros, Rita Porfiris, and Karin Brown. She maintains a busy private studio of viola and violin students in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Schenk has had a long history with MCYO: first as a student, and now as a viola coach. She is a Lecturer at Frostburg State University, teaching violin and viola. When Talya is not making or teaching music, she is adventuring with her dog Luna.

MCYO Conductor

Katherine Smolen is a passionate educator and an active violinist in the DC/MD/VA/DE region who has performed on stages throughout the United States and Europe. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Katherine earned a Bachelor of Music Education as well as a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance under the study of Irina Muresanu, Kimberly Fisher, and Oleg Ryltako. Ms. Smolen has since worked in many different settings including teaching violin and viola privately, coaching chamber ensembles, and rehearsing full ensembles. This year marks Ms. Smolen’s third season with MCYO. Ms. Smolen is currently completing a Master of Music Education at the University of Michigan and is the Director of Orchestras at Loiederman Middle School for the Performing Arts in Silver Spring, MD.

MCYO Violin Coach

Described by The Baltimore Sun as “clearly gifted” and having “expressive talent,” violinist Evelyn Song is loved by audiences for her sincerity in music-making. She finds great joy in bringing the concert hall experience to diverse audiences, wherever they are. During her two years at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC), she was twice awarded the Community Fellowship and the Musical Storytelling Fellowship of the school’s Community Performances and Partnerships Program, through which she received rigorous training in community engagement work. After giving bedside performances for patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and witnessing firsthand the healing and restorative power of music, she committed to further exploring new ways of sharing music with audiences of all backgrounds. She has given numerous themed recitals with original storytelling at retirement homes and interwoven music with the reading of children’s books at schools. Also an enthusiastic teacher, she coached chamber ensembles for NEC’s Preparatory School, and many of her summers were spent working with young musicians in her home studio as well as at music camps. She is currently on the faculty for Summer String Week with Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO) and will be joining the list of teachers at StringTime’s summer camp this year.

Most recently, Evelyn was a featured artist in the 2022 BelCanto Ensemble concert in San Diego and was invited to perform again in September. As an MCYO alumna, in 2022 she performed as a soloist in MCYO’s 75th-anniversary celebration concert at the Music Center at Strathmore. After her well-received performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins with the Orchestra at Montgomery College, Music Director Pablo Saelzer invited Evelyn to serve as the artist-in-residence and concertmaster of the then newly-formed ensemble UNSTRUNG. There she was tasked with recruiting musicians, nurturing young players, and assisting with concert programming and logistics. She also had the honor of playing the Bruch Double Concerto for Violin and Viola with Jonathan Carney and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Marin Alsop. In addition, Evelyn has made solo appearances at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, the National Gallery of Art, the National Building Museum, the Spanish Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C., and Union Station’s Ann Taylor for its grand opening.

A seasoned chamber musician, Evelyn has a deep love for collaboration. Her string quartets have competed in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Plowman Chamber Music Competition, and were finalists in WDAV’s Young Chamber Musicians Competition and the Saint Paul String Quartet Competition. Through her chamber music studies, she has worked extensively with members of the Emerson, Orion, Borromeo, and Cavani String Quartets, and was mentored by the American String Quartet at the Centrum Chamber Music Workshop. Evelyn has played in master classes with the esteemed Dover, Ehnes, Danish, and Fine Arts Quartets, and with such distinguished artists as Nikolaj Znaider, Rachel Barton Pine, Stefan Jackiw, and Jeffrey Thayer. Notable summer festivals attended include Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and the Heifetz International Music Institute.

Evelyn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Ilya Kaler and Ivan Zenaty, and continued on to receive a Graduate Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Ayano Ninomiya.