Skip to main content

Update browser for a secure TSO experience

It looks like you may be using a web browser version that we don't support. Make sure you're using the most recent version of your browser, or try using of these supported browsers, to get the full TSO experience: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge.

Are you a former TSYO member? We want to connect with you and hear about what you’re up to in preparation for our 50th anniversary season!

Please register as a TSYO Alumni and contribute memories, photos, and more to the TSYO’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Wall.

For more information, please contact Ness Wong at 416.595.4277 or TYSO@TSO.CA.

If you would like to reach us by mail, please write to us at the following address:

TSYO Alumni Association
500-145 Wellington St. W.
Toronto, ON  M5J 1H8

The TSYO Alumni

The TSYO boasts over 2,000 Alumni who now live around the world and pursue a wide variety of career paths. TSYO Alumni have gone on to become professional musicians, aerospace engineers, lawyers, journalists, tech workers, musicians, and even car racers! Others have been admitted to prestigious international schools, including the Julliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and Imperial College London. 

Among our Alumni includes Marie Berard, the Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company; Roman Borys, the cellist of the Gryphon Trio; Sarah Jeffrey, Principal Oboist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; and others!

Fun facts: 

  • Over the course of its history, the TSYO has had 37 members named David and 23 members named Jennifer!
  • Of over 2,000 Alumni, nearly 600 played the violin!

TSYO Timeline

  • June 1974The TSYO is formed
    • A committee is approved under the chairmanship of John McDougall to oversee the formation of the TSO. Victor Feldbrill was chosen as the Music Director.
  • 2 February 1975Inaugural concert of TSYO
    • Performed at MacMillan Theatre at the University of Toronto. Orchestra was only established 9 weeks before the concert. TV Ontario recorded a documentary featuring this performance of Festive Overture. 
      • Repertoire:
        • Festive Overture - D. Shostakovich
        • Antiphonie - F. Morel
        • Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor - J. S. Bach arr. L. Stokowski
        • Symphony no. 6 in D Major - A. Dvořák"
  • September 1978—Leonard Atherton is chosen as the new Music Director
  • September 1979—Ermanno Florio & David Zafer are chosen as the new Music Directors
  • 1980—Tour to Banff
    • Banff Canadian Festival of Youth Orchestras Tour. Performed as a part of the 1979-1980 season under guest conductor Nicholas Braithwaite. After the festival, Florio & Zafer conducted an extra concert at Lethbridge, Alberta.
  • October 1981—First camp weekend
    • At Camp Kandalore, Minden, Ontario.
  • 1981—Exchange with the Montreal Civic Youth Orchestra
    • The exchange is done as a part of the McGill/Guelph Festival.
  • February 1982—Exchange with the Youth Orchestra of Greater Fort Worth, Texas
    • The exchange is done as a part of the 1981-1982 season.
  • November 1982—Masterclass with Pinchas Zukerman
  • October 1983—Masterclass with Yo-Yo Ma
  • December 1983—Roy Thomson Hall debut
    • The TSYO performs at Roy Thomson Hall for the first time as a guest orchestra for the TSO Young People's Concert Programme.
  • March 1985—Masterclass with Wynton Marsalis
  • July-August 1985—Europe Tour
    • Tour to the Netherlands, England, and Scotland. Performed during the summer of 1985. The TSYO participated in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Aberdeen, Scotland. They then performed at Dunblane Cathedral in Stirling, UK, then performed at Hazlehead Park. The program included Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture in collaboration with the Concert Chorus of the University of the Philippines and many massed pipes, drums, and overhead fireworks.They then toured to Holland, then went to the London Youth Festival, where the TSYO was the only non-British youth orchestra invited. The tour was planned to coincide with the International Year of Youth.
  • September 1986—Nurham Arman is chosen as the new Music Director
  • September 1986—BBC Radio Times Debut
    • A recording of a TSYO concert is broadcast on BBC Radio Times on September 3rd, 1986.
  • September 1987—David Zafer returns as a co-Music Director alongside Joaquin Valdepeñas
  • 1988-1989—Tour to Whitehorse and Inuvik
    • Sonata for Wind Orchestra by Harry Somers was commissioned and premiered for Toronto as a part of this tour. Performed as a part of the 1988-1989 season.
  • 1990—Tour to Osaka, Japan
    • Performed at the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka Expo 1990 in honour of a visit by the Crown Prince of Japan.
  • 1991—Tour to the Festival of Youth Orchestras
    • The Festival takes place in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1995—Performance at Massey Hall
    • To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the TSYO performs at Massey Hall.
  • 1996—Fundraising Recording Project
    • The TSYO mounts its first compact disc recording. 
  • 1999—Tour to the International Festival of Youth Orchestras
    • The TSYO represents Canada at the Festival in Banff. Performed as a part of the 1999-2000 season.
  • September 1999—Bramwell Tovey is chosen as the new Music Director
  • September 2000—Susan Haig is chosen as the new Music Director
  • September 2003—Victor Feldbrill returns as Director
  • September 2004—Alain Trudel is chosen as the new Music Director
  • October 2004—The TSYO learns from James Ehnes
  • April 2005—Tour to Parry Sound and North Bay
  • March 2006—Tour to Parry Sound
  • March 2007—Tour to Quebec
  • March 2009—Tour to Newfoundland
  • April 2010—Tour to Parry Sound
  • May 2011—Tour to Vancouver
    • Met with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
  • 2012—Tour to British Columbia
    • Performances in Vancouver, Nanaimo, and Victoria. Performed as a part of the 2011-2021 season.
  • September 2012—Shalom Bard is chosen as the new Music Director
  • November 2012—Tour to Perth
  • April 2014—Tour to Quebec Festival
  • September 2015—The TSYO becomes tuition-free.
  • September 2016—Earl Lee is chosen as the new Music Director
  • October 2016—Performing with Shawn Mendes
    • The TSO performs with Shawn Mendes at WE day Toronto.
  • 2017—Touring with the TSO
    • The TSYO tours with the TSO to Ottawa and Montreal.
  • September 2018—Simon Rivard is chosen as the new Music Director
  • September 2023—50th Season

Memory Wall

ANONYMOUS

Instead of playing trombone, I played Euphonium for the Concerto Competition.

DANIEL HO (2014-2017)

Daniel is currently completing Teacher’s College qualifications at York University. He is teaching music at the Junior/Intermediate level. 

“Camp weekend was nice!”

JOSHUA SAMUELS (2019-2021)

Joshua is currently studying Psychology at McGill and is deeply involved at McGill University’s music scene as a cellist in the McGill Beethoven Orchestra and in chamber music. Joshua is also a part of the university’s Classical Music Club. 

“The chocolate milk during camp weekend. I'll never forget how good it was.”

NOAH ULLMAN (2018-2020)

Noah is currently pursuing a concurrent music education degree at Queen’s University.

“Absolute highlight of my life was playing Shostakovich 10 at Roy Thomson Hall.”

ANONYMOUS

“The camp weekends were some of the most memorable music experiences of my life - it was really special to be able to make close friends so fast and get to play so much together. It’s still so nice to run into other alumni at music events and immediately recognize and reminisce.”

ELIZABETH ANDREWS (1996-2001)

Elizabeth is currently a core member of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. She also plays regularly with Tafelmusik and Esprit. 

“Memorable moments: Side-by-side concerts -- two were big highlights. A Proms concert with the late Bramwell Tovey, and an incredible concert with Bobby McFarren, where we sang the William Tell Overture as an encore; also, recording Firebird and Barber Violin Concerto in 1997, my first year in the orchestra.”

SALLY AHN (2020-2022)

“Playing Side-by-Side concerts with TSO in April 2022 was one of the most memorable experiences in TSYO. Live performing for the first time after the pandemic has started and to be on the Roy Thomson Hall stage with great musicians was very exciting.”

DANIEL BARAK (2019-2021)

Daniel is currently doing his Master’s in Trumpet Performance at the New England Conservatory.

“Memorable moment: Playing Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony in 2019.”

JAMES GASS (2005-2006)

“Endless hours of rehearsal were always rewarding and inspiring.”

GRACE HAMILTON (2020-2022)

“I think my favourite memory was playing in the side-by-side concert in the spring of 2022.  I had my third year recital the afternoon before our second concert, and it was just really special getting to sit next to and perform with my teachers, and mentors at RTH, as well as my friends from TSYO!”

ANONYMOUS

“On our 2019-2020 Camp Weekend a group of musicians went out on a walk in the fresh and crisp air after rehearsing for hours. We got to the docks, which were a few big squares tied together with wire ties. We started walking and dancing on them, trying our best to keep our balance. Eventually one of the squares broke off and started floating away like an iceberg, but the bigger problem was that there were people on it. Of course, the TSYO teamwork saved the day and we were able to pull the square deck back to its place and rescue the people on top. This became a spot we took many pictures at.”

PAUL OPRISE (2019-2021)

“Concerts and camps with the TSYO were fun, but even the rehearsals in the bass section was a blast---I think we found the perfect balance of musicality and fun/humour when practicing.”

ANIKA GRIEVE (2019-2021)

Anika is beginning studies at the Eastman School of Music and University of Rochester for a dual degree in cello performance and English.

“TSYO has provided me with a number of different opportunities beyond orchestral playing. Performing for seniors via zoom with the TSOUND CONNECTIONS program was one of the most incredible experiences I have had with my cello. These experiences opened up my mind to music's unique ability to connect and heal. Another memory: We members of the cello section used to meet before orchestra to play together. One cellist suggested that we try playing some cello choir music together and arranged a gig for us at his school. The bond we formed thanks to our shared experience and goals at TSYO continues to this day!”

ANONYMOUS

“Memorable moment: TSYO 2012 Tour to BC and side-by-side concert with VYSO!”

MARK CHRISTOPHER VOLK (2009-2011)

Mark is working in Clinical Research and still continues to play music as much as possible!

“Side-by-side concerts, camp weekend - such great times!”

ANONYMOUS

“Alain Trudel was one of the best musical educators I have ever had the pleasure of working with!”

DAVE PORTER (1976-1978)

“I enjoyed playing for Victor Feldbrill and joint concerts with the TSO including the former first trumpet of the TSO - Larry Weeks.”

CHRIS DAVEY (1984-1986)

Chris plays Tuba with the Oakville Wind Orchestra.

“My best TSYO memory was the 1985 your to Europe and getting the chance to play my favourite piece, Prokofiev's 5th Symphony. We had an awesome brass section and it was a wonderful experience!”

ELAYNE (1981-1983)

Elayne is a Suzuki teacher of Violin and Viola in Rockwood and Guelph, Ontario.and the Asst. Principal 2nd violin with Guelph Symphony Orchestra. Elayne is one of only 10 people in Canada approved to be a Violin Teacher Trainer with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

“Enjoyed TSYO trips to Fort Worth, Texas and Montreal. Learned so much under Maestros Ermanno Florio and David Zafer!”

GLEN HUNG (2018-2021)

Mendelssohn Choir. It was simply such a unique setting where most of us played with a Choir for the first time ever; and it turned out more than amazing.”

SANNA TAYABALI (2019-2020)

Sanna is Studying biomedical engineering at McMaster and working in surgical technology.

“Camp Weekend was the turning point, when TSYO went from ensemble to family. From waking up early to see sunrise on the lake all bundled up, to watching La La Land late at night. It was even more incredible to play Tchaikovsky No. 5, a classic, in the serenity of the forest.”

YUNA LEE (2018-2022)

“If I were to recall some of my favourite moments from my 3 years at TSYO, it would consist of playing side-by-side on the same stage as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, accompanying the Red Sky Performance Dance Company under the pit at the Sony Centre, and the annual Thanksgiving Weekend Getaway Trip!!”

MICHAEL HUSU (2021-2022)

“The side-by-side concert is an experience that has changed me and motivated me as a musician. The feeling of being completely immersed into a moment, into the world of music, gave me such a profound impact and comfort that music is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Surrounded by passionate people while playing fantastic music inspired me to continue to pursue music and to want to share these experiences with other people.

Every rehearsal felt like an honour to take part in. There was intensity through work but also intensity in emotion and I am so glad I could share that experience with talented musicians that are my friends. The concerts had given me a sense of gratefulness and privilege that I am able to be on stage performing such music with my peers and with the TSO, but also being grateful that I am able to pursue music as a career. All these feelings had made me live in the moment and truly appreciate how lucky I am to be a part of such an amazing program.”

NICOLE PAGALING (2014-2016)

Nicole is currently teaching high school music in Montreal.

“Aside from getting to play landmark orchestral repertoire with TSYO, my best memories truly are of making new friends, bonding over our love for music, and getting to share the experience with them.”

IVA-MARI MIŠKULIN (2020-2022)

Iva-Mari is currently studying a Master’s in Molecular Bioengineering at Imperial College London, and is continuing to be involved in music academies and concerts with the piano.

“It has been wonderful to meet many great friends through chamber groups at the TSYO. Working with like-minded, talented, young individuals weekly was always a highlight of my week!”

DEAN CHEN (2018-2022)

“I remember specifically when we had a masterclass with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra's Principal Double Bass, Ali Yazdanfar. This was during camp weekend and came to the double bass section as a pleasant surprise. It was a fantastic experience for our development and it was amazing that everyone got a chance to play as well.”

ALASTAIR ENG (1999-2002)

Alastair is currently a part of the Toronto Symphony and is the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Santa Fe Opera.

“One of the earliest highlights of my musical life was my first year as a member of the TSYO. That season we performed Tchaikovsky 6, Prokofiev 5, and went on a week long tour to Banff. As a member of the orchestra, I got to meet, play music with, and form lasting friendships with other talented musicians my age from Toronto, some of whom are also professional musicians today. It was a privilege to learn from many of the incredible musicians in the TSO. My three years in TSYO played a huge role in my development as a musician and inspired me to continue to pursue music as a career.”

ELLIE SIEVERS (2017-2020)

Ellie is currently pursuing a degree in violin performance under Brian Lewis and a degree is Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas Austin.

“Two of my favourite memories of TSYO are from Camp Weekend, when the orchestra surprised me for my 15th birthday (when my roommates and I walked into our room, it was filled with balloons) and for my 16th birthday (during choir rehearsal, the orchestra sang "Happy Birthday" for me). TSYO was like a second family.”

ERICK OLIVER WAWRZKIEWICZ (2009-2012)

Erick is a teacher of violin and viola, based in Toronto.

“When I went into TSYO I was expecting that most of the members would be young players aspiring to a professional career in music. I was surprised when I encountered many talented musicians who were not pursuing a career in music but were going into other demanding fields. In spite of their time constraints these musicians were not only strong players, they were often among the most successful musicians in the orchestra, holding leading positions and winning the concerto competition. They were an inspiration to me and they taught me a lot about what great music making means.

TSYO was a Mecca for attracting the best young talent in the city. The standards were very high and the coaches and conductors expected nothing but the best from us. But, it was one of the best musical experiences of my life because everyone there wanted to be there. Everyone there wanted to give it their all and the coaches treated us all like professional artists, regardless of our career goals. TSYO was a place where everyone could thrive. Every week I looked forward with excitement and anticipation to Saturday's rehearsal, and, after all these years, I still miss it.”

Memory Gallery

The (film, non-digital) photograph attached is the cello section circa 1999, when TSYO represented Canada at the Banff International Festival of Youth Orchestras. David Hetherington (near the centre) was our section coach for a number of years, and while I didn't end up pursuing music professionally, he personally had a huge impact on my musical pursuits (e.g. IMC). There are other members in the photo that some may recognize - Earl Lee, Alastair Eng and Adrian Fung - who are still in the biz.

Archival Gallery

More about the TSYO