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For over 60 years, the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program (AYSP) has provided high-quality music education and performance experience to thousands of students in the Albuquerque area. Formed in1955, AYSP was a collaborative project between the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and the University of New Mexico (UNM). Dr. Kurt Frederick of UNM’s Department of Music was the founding conductor of the program’s sole youth symphony orchestra, which then included students in grades 7-12.
In 1964, Dale Kempter, also of UNM’s Department of Music, succeeded Dr. Frederick as music director and conductor of the Youth Symphony. With increasing student interest in the program over the next ten years, Mr. Kempter led the expansion of the AYSP to include two high school orchestras, for students in grades 9-12, and two middle school orchestras, for students in grades 6-8.
In the early 1990s, a joint task force comprised of representatives of UNM and APS, along with various community leaders, recommended that that AYSP become an independent non-profit organization under the governance of a board of directors. Still today, representatives of both APS and UNM provide valuable leadership to AYSP as members of the program’s board of directors.
Over the next 25 years, AYSP continued to expand to serve more students, adding the Preparatory String Orchestra, Junior String Orchestra, Junior Band and Youth Concert Orchestra. What began in 1955 as a single orchestra has steadily and sustainably grown to a program that today serves approximately 500 students annually. Hundreds of students in grades 4-12 audition each season for placement in one of the program’s eight ensembles for strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
It is thanks to numerous individuals each season – talented and highly trained artistic staff, administrative staff, board members, community partners, parents, and students – that AYSP continues a tradition of excellence in music education and performance!