(Left to Right: Sarah and Geoffrey Gund, Photo courtesy: Geoffrey and Sarah Gund)

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) announced on Saturday it will receive a $5 million gift from Geoffrey and Sarah Gund to The Cleveland Orchestra’s endowment, helping to ensure this unique musical training experience continues for generations of young people.

“Sarah and I are both teachers and have watched the development of young minds throughout our professional lives. There is nothing more important than supporting students who are working hard and show potential for special achievement. The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra combines our love of music and our admiration of professional musicians who teach the discipline required to achieve excellence. We are delighted to support the Youth Orchestra that gives so much to Cleveland and beyond,” Geoffrey Gund said.

The Geoffrey and Sarah Gund Endowment for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra will provide significant financial support for a large portion of COYO’s annual operating expenses. The rest of COYO’s expenses are covered by membership fees, ticket sales, and support from individuals and organizations to the Orchestra’s Annual Fund.

Geoffrey Gund developed a love of music while growing up in Cleveland, where he also served as a trustee of the George Gund Foundation for more than 40 years. Geoffrey and Sarah Gund call The Cleveland Orchestra, “A jewel in the city of Cleveland.”

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(Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra musicians, Photo courtesy: Roger Mastroianni)

“We are grateful for Geoffrey and Sarah Gund’s generosity and commitment of support for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, which provides an unparalleled educational experience for these young musicians. They not only receive top-notch training from Cleveland Orchestra musicians, they learn the art of collaboration, self-discipline, time management, and perseverance — skills that are critical for success in school, work, and life,” said Joan Katz Napoli, Vice President of Education and Community Programs for The Cleveland Orchestra.

“This extraordinary gift to the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra speaks to the incredible talent and dedication of these remarkable young musicians. Thanks to the generosity of Geoffrey and Sarah Gund, The Cleveland Orchestra’s vision of offering world-class instruction to middle and high school-aged musicians across Northeast Ohio will be preserved for years to come,” said André Gremillet, The Cleveland Orchestra’s President and CEO.

COYO’s 2022-23 season begins on November 20, launching its 37th concert season and the first under music director Daniel Reith, who in addition to his youth orchestra role, is the assistant conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra.

Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra by the numbers:

  • During the 2022-23 season, COYO boasts 89 young musicians from 41 communities across 12 Northeast Ohio counties.
  • COYO has provided instruction to more than 1,500 young musicians since its founding in 1986.
  • Five COYO alumni are currently members of The Cleveland Orchestra: Eliesha Nelson, viola; Jessica Sindell, assistant principal flute; Lyle Steelman, assistant principal trumpet; Jeffrey Zehngut; violin; and Gareth Zehngut, viola.
  • COYO alumni are members of approximately 30 different orchestras in North America.
  • COYO has toured internationally: Europe, 2012; China, 2015; and Europe, 2019.

About the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra 
The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) is a full symphonic ensemble composed of young musicians drawn from dozens of communities across Northern Ohio. Founded in 1986 by Jahja Ling (then resident conductor of The Cleveland Orchestra), the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) provides serious young music students of middle and high school age with a unique pre-professional orchestral training experience. 

Among the acclaimed artists to work with COYO are Marin Alsop, Pierre Boulez, Stéphane Denève, Christoph von Dohnányi, Giancarlo Guerrero, Witold Lutosławski, Yo-Yo Ma, Gil Shaham, Michael Tilson Thomas, Antoni Wit, and Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. The ensemble has been featured on three international tours.

The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra is part of a suite of Cleveland Orchestra programs designed to nurture aspiring young musicians, which also includes the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, the Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus and Preparatory Chorus, and the Crescendo and Music Mentors pathways initiatives for students in Cleveland schools. For more information, please visit clevelandorchestra.com/discover/coyo and clevelandorchestrayouthorchestra.com/

Endowment support is provided by The George Gund Foundation and Christine Gitlin Miles. COYO touring is supported by an endowment gift from the Jules and Ruth Vinney Family.  

Calendar Listing: Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra 2022-23 Season 
All performances take place in Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Concert Hall at Severance Music Center. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022 at 3:00pm
Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra 
Daniel Reith, conductor  
Moshi Tang, violin and previous Concerto Competition winner 

L. BOULANGER  D’un soir triste (Of a Sad Evening)
TCHAIKOVSKY  Violin Concerto  
PROKOFIEV  Excerpts from Romeo and Juliet 

Friday, February 24, 2023 at 8:00pm 
Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra 
Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus 
Daniel Reith, conductor  
WAGNER  Prelude to Act I from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg  
SCHUBERT  Mass No. 2  
BRAHMS  Symphony No. 1  

Friday, May 5, 2023 at 8:00pm  
Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra 
Daniel Reith, conductor  
SCHWERTSIK  Herr K. entdeckt Amerika 
RACHMANINOV  Symphony No. 3 
Additional concerto selection to be announced based on winner of 2022-23 COYO Concerto Competition 

All artists and programs are subject to change