Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra will say goodbye to longtime director at Carnegie Hall performance

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra is set to play Carnegie Hall this week in a special joint performance with the New World Singers of the Columbus Children’s Choir.

But for this orchestra, the performance may be at times bittersweet. For one longtime member of the CSO, it will be his last performance.

Conductor Peter Stafford Wilson will be retiring from his position with the CSO after this performance, meaning this flock of young musicians is losing its longtime shepherd. 

“This is just a meaningful experience for all of us,” Sarah Morris, 18, a French horn player said of the performance in New York City.

Wilson has been a part of the Columbus Symphony for almost three decades. He was there back in 1990 for the humble beginnings of what would become the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. Now that same symphony is playing Carnegie Hall. 

“It just felt like the right time,” Wilson said of his departure, “I am very proud of that legacy even though I did not predict it would be 28 years.”

For the students the CSYO has been a part of their lives for years, many of them started in the 5th grade and worked to the highest level.

“I am probably going to cry,” said Hannah Shively, 18, a cello player. 

But as Mr. Wilson puts down his baton for the last time, his legacy will live on, 

“He breaks so many batons, and he spends so much money on them,” said Drew Collins, 18, a bass player.

One of the more memorable lessons from his conductor he will hang on to is simple but helpful: ” Don’t get lost while sight reading.” 

For French horn player Sarah Morris, it’s also a lesson in learning. 

“You come to rehearsal to learn everyone else’s part, not your own,” she said.

But for cello player Hannah Shively, it’s a bit more metaphorical, “One thing I love that he says is just kind of simple, it’s ‘open your ears and listen to each other,’” she said.  

Wilson hopes in addition to leaving kids with a love of music, that they understand how important having arts and culture is to a successful community.

“An experience like this really does mold a future leader,” Wilson said.

The Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra and New World Singers are scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall on June 15 at 8:00 pm.

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