GSYO alumni are welcome to leave their comments in the form down below. All comments are organized by graduation year.
Michael Chung, cello, 2009-2014
Update 08/2018: I just graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science, and now I’m off to the far-off land of Connecticut to teach math and computer science at the Loomis Chaffee School while earning my Master’s of Education from the University of Pennsylvania
Comments: ECYS meant everything to me in high school. It was where I met my best friends, and where I developed in leaps and bounds as a person. Through my three years as principal cellist, I learned to open up and communicate first with my section, and later with the entire orchestra. I thoroughly credit my time in ECYS with breaking me out of my shell and teaching me how to form and maintain relationships with peers.
The 50th anniversary tour of Central Europe was packed with memories that will always remain as some of my very fondest. One specific moment that comes to mind is stepping onto the stage of the Bela Bartok National Concert Hall and just breaking down crying. It was a moment that I had been anticipating for the entire year, and experiencing it with some of my dearest and closest friends was simply overwhelming. There are so many more stories from that trip, and each of them are experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
May Zeng, trombone, 2008-2013
Update 08/2013: I’m about to start my first year at UCLA and will be studying Trombone Performance and a currently undecided second major.
Comments: The outstanding repertoire played in ECYS both helped me grow as a musician and realize how much I love music. I’ve learned invaluable lessons from coaches, Dr. Kolchinsky, guest artists, and my peers. I am grateful for all the opportunities ECYS has given me, from playing in the finest concert halls in Europe to getting to know some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
Stephanie Chu, flute, 2007-2011
Update 05/2013: I am currently attending University of the Pacific studying Speech-Language Pathology and a BA in Music in Flute. I am actively involved in the Conservatory of Music, playing in Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the orchestra. I also joined a professional music fraternity this semester called Mu Phi Epsilon, where I established connections with countless musicians who are just as passionate about music as I am. In addition, I was chosen to perform in my school’s Student Honor’s Recital. This summer, I will be doing a six-week internship at Bear Valley Music Festival. I plan to study abroad in Vienna, Austria in the Spring of 2014, where I will be participating in a semester-long music program for foreign exchange students.
Comments: ECYS has been so much more than just orchestra experience that I could put down on my resume. Looking back at my 4 years in ECYS, I realized that being part of this incredibly supportive organization has changed me into a much more confident, passionate musician. The opportunities ECYS provides, such as playing principal parts, soloing with the orchestra, and touring around Europe, are priceless moments I will forever cherish. Most importantly, ECYS taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance, not just in music but in everything else that I do, and these lessons carry far with me into college and beyond. I am so thankful for everything that ECYS has given me during my 4 years there, and I am grateful that ECYS continues to inspire and change the lives of more and more musicians.
Aaron Shuler, trumpet
Update 11/2012: I’m currently attending the University of California at Davis and studying Computer Science with a possible double major in Music Composition. I am the principle trumpet player in the UCD Symphony Orchestra and am also playing in a brass quintet.
Comments: I credit my time in ECYS with turning my hobby of playing trumpet into a passion that will be with me my whole life. Under the wonderful guidance of Dr. Kolchinsky, I was introduced to a whole new world of music literature and music performance, leaving me with memories I will remember for the rest of my life. ECYS is the perfect place for budding musicians of all ages.
Tim Yu, violin
Update 11/2012: I am currently pursuing a Cognitive Science and Economics double major at UCLA. I took a year off from music, but plan on getting back into the scene for 2013 by joining the UCLA Symphony and hopefully starting to work more on my YouTube channel and collaborations with other people. I am envisioning a career in business, technology and entrepreneurship, and at the same time, hope to stay connected to the music world in whatever means I can.
Comments: ECYS has been more than just an organization for me the ten years I have been a part of it; it has been family. My experience in ECYS has truly shaped me into the person I am today, more-so than anything else. I could go for hours talking about all the incredible musical opportunities and experiences ECYS provided me: my first solo performance as a tiny third grader and the numerous solo opportunities that followed in magnificent venues–including those in Europe, the unforgettable Symphony European concert tours, masterclasses with world-renowned artists, an enriching quartet that got to perform at a Joint Venture Silicon Valley Conference, the inspiring tutelage of the conductor Dr. Camilla Kolchinsky and the professional repertoire, and countless charity and service performances.
However, ECYS offered more than just growth as a professional musician. It helped me become a true artist, leader and teammate, and showed me how rewarding it felt to achieve success not just individually but also as a team. It taught me what commitment, hard work and perseverance was all about. It made me realize how much I loved to inspire people through music and give back to the community.
Most importantly, it provided me timeless memories, and blessed me with a lifelong family of aspiring musicians, leaders and friends that are so like-minded, yet so diverse, that still inspires me to this very day. ECYS has played such a tremendous role in all aspects of my life, and I am forever grateful for everything the organization has done for me and the extraordinary impact it will continue to have on the community and future generations.
Jonathan Lin, violin
Update 11/2012: Just graduated from UCSD and now looking for work and or thinking about grad school.
Julian Tong, double bass
Update 11/2012: Finishing up my degree in Mathematics and Economics at New York University this semester. Hopefully going to graduate school for Economics or the Peace Corps next year, but for the meantime, working as a barista and playing in my hardcore band in New York City.
Comments: I will never forget the great experiences I had during my stay at ECYS. The Baltic Tour of Finland, Estonia, and St. Petersburg will forever be remembered in my head. Happy 50th Anniversary ECYS! Here’s to 50 more!
Maddy Ouye, oboe
Update 11/2012: I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Speech, Language, and Hearing Science from Boston University in May 2011. I currently work full-time in Human Resources at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. I spend my free time volunteering with the American Cancer Society, specifically with various Relay For Life events across the country.
Comments: El Camino Youth Symphony is a truly amazing organization that offers children and teenagers so many opportunities and amazing experiences. It allows people to pursue their musical aspirations and perform amazing pieces in fantastic venues. ECYS teaches people so many important concepts and skills, such as time management, responsibility, punctuality, and more. By playing with ECYS, a musician will learn so much about him/herself.
I was a part of ECYS for seven years and I can safely say ECYS was a huge part of my life and it will be something that I never forget. I spent three years in the Senior Symphony and I got to participate in two international tours. I got to experience things that I will probably never get to experience again, for example getting a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd in Prague, and I got to travel to so many beautiful and amazing places that I will probably never get to experience again. I got to play fabulous pieces and be on stage with fabulous soloists. ECYS taught me a lot about myself and I truly miss performing with ECYS and the entire atmosphere of ECYS.
With arts programs dwindling in the public schools, organizations like ECYS are essential. They allow children to express themselves and to pursue their dreams. I think everyone should consider being involved in ECYS, either by auditioning for one of the various groups that is a part of ECYS or by donating to the organization.
Roshan Sukumar, bassoon
Update 11/2012: Living in Seattle, Washington while pursuing my MM in Bassoon Performance.
Comments: Being in ECYS is what inspired me to pursue a career in music. The memories I have from my time in ECYS will be something I cherish forever. It is where a deep love for great music was instilled in me, and where I met some of my closest friends, and had the opportunity to see the new parts of the world on tour. I will never forget the amazing times I had making music in ECYS and will always be thankful for that period of my life.
Natasha Feier, trumpet
Update 11/07/2012: I’m in Montreal, Canada doing an advanced degree in neuroscience at McGill University. I just started my graduate program in August and love it so far. My work focuses on finding the neural mechanisms related to chronic pain disorders using neuroimaging techniques.
Comments: Being part of ECYS was one of the best decisions I made during high school. I was not satisfied with either the musical opportunities or social life at my high school, and ECYS provided both a supportive community and elite musical training. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel and perform in some of Europe’s best concert halls. The friendships I made in ECYS are some of the friendships I cherish the most to this day.
Matthew Litrus, trumpet
Update 11/2012: I’m currently working as a project manager at a software company in San Diego. I’m still playing music!
Comments: ECYS helped me grow intimate with timeless music and grow musically with like minds and talented peers. In addition to helping me tremendously in my musical development, ECYS rehearsals (and eventually tour) became a weekly hang out with a group of friends. I am thankful for all the wonderful friends and acquaintances I met at ECYS, many of whom are still my close friends to this day.
Fabienne Maurer, violin
Update 11/2012: Acting, singing, playing the violin, dancing, teaching and producing independent films. I also wrote a children’s book about the symphony to be published in 2013! www.fabiennemaurer.com / www.imdb.me/fabiennemaurer
Comments: To this day, my ECYS years were the most important in my life. I cherish every memory, rehearsal, concert and relationship I made along the way, and wish I had never graduated! 😉 I treasure coming back to concerts and always leave in awe at the high level and joy each child and faculty member brings to the music. I’m so proud of my students who are part of the ECYS family. They will keep ECYS in their hearts forever.
Jessica Murphy (Bazan), viola, 1990-1997
Update: I currently live in San Jose with my Husband and two young Children. I am a Hospital Medicine Physician at Santa Clara Kaiser. I share my passion for music with my children every day either by listening or playing music at home.
Comments: I started with ECYS in the Chamber Orchestra and learned many lessons along the way up to the Senior Symphony. The experiences I had throughout the years have truly shaped who I am today. I still carry the excitement of playing for audiences all over the world as a team. I am so happy to see this organization continuing this tradition for young people.
Colin Ogg, violin and viola, 1991-1993
Update 10/2016: I am currently the Assistant Concertmaster for the Georgia Philharmonic and I have had the pleasure of serving as the General Manager / Associate Conductor for the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra.
Brian Vandemark, double bass, 1985-1989
Update 05/2013: I work as a systems engineer for eLine LLC in San Francisco. I still perform music, mostly rock, blues, and bluegrass in many small groups around the Bay Area.
Comments: ECYS was a fun and supportive organization that fostered my growth as an individual and helped me develop interpersonal skills. Beyond simply learning music, I had great unforgettable experiences and I made some life-long friends in ECYS. I’ll never forget the times we had in Hawaii, playing music in crowded shopping malls and outside in the park. I’ll never forget rehearsing and hiking with new friends at the ECYS retreat in Yosemite. I will never forget the feeling of tuning my bass in Carnegie Hall and hearing the hall ring to the sound of my bass. And then firing-up the bass rumble at the beginning of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Most of all I’ll never forget Leroy Kromm who conducted ECYS in my last few years of High School. Thank you Leroy. I am so happy to see ECYS still going strong. I hope it stays that way for many years to come.
Jason May, cello
Update 11/2012: Local parent, bringing up a cellist and a violinist
Comments: I recall the final performance where the ECYS orchestra performed Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherezade and Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. The music was well past the capability of the orchestra at the time, but a valiant attempt was made by all. And the off-site camp was a lot of fun.
Pamela Sawyer, trumpet
Update 5/2016: I am now a retired cantor but played trumpet professionally for many years. Still playing for fun in orchestras, a klezmer band, and a jazz band. Singing in 2 choirs.
Hans Hansen, cello, 1963-64
Update 09/2013: Retired musician. Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from University of Utah in Music History and Literature, Musicology. Cand. Phil. in Music from UCLA in Historical Musicology, Teaching Credentials in Secondary Education from California State University Northridge (CSUN) in Music, History, and Geography. Played cello in Aragon High School Symphony, San Mateo Union High School District Honor Orchestra, College of San Mateo Summer Strings Orchestra, Brigham Young University Symphony Orchestra, Utah Youth Symphony, and Burbank Symphony. Taught music at UCLA, CSUN, and two high school districts in southern California. Church organist at several denominations for 42 years, choir director for 35 years. Also taught piano and organ. Performed professionally on piano, organ, and harpsichord. Sang (bass-baritone) with Aragon High School A Cappella Choir, City of Los Angeles Chamber Singers, Robert Selland Chorale, and Santa Clarita Master Chorale.
Comments: I was just a high school freshman, only 14 years old, when the El Camino Youth Symphony was formed. One of the highlights of that first season was our performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”. It was a real learning experience to rehearse this work and it gave me a new appreciation of Mozart.
Joan King, violin, 1963
Update 04/2016: I am still teaching a select few students. My principal teachers were Elizabeth Kincade in Palo Alto, Albert Gillis at San Jose State University; Vladimir Wulfmann, Henryk Szeryng, and Enrique Espín-Yépez at the National Conservatory in Mexico City; and Robert Gerle at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. I played professionally for 20 years in Mexico: Former member of Mexico’s Opera Orchestra, Mexico State Symphony, National Symphony of Mexico and Xalapa Symphony. I was a member of the Victoria Symphony, British Columbia, for 20 years, before retiring. I have taught many students, some of whom are professional musicians, including my two children.
Comments: I was a member of ECYS the first year it started. Unfortunately, due to a family move, I didn’t continue after 1963. I also played with the California Youth Symphony and toured Japan with the Galbraith brothers.