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About Us

The Initial Ensemble for talented, school-age musicians got its start in 1965 when Ralph Matesky, music director of the Stockton Symphony and Doris Byron, assistant concert mistress of the Stockton Symphony and string teacher at Edison High School, formed an orchestra composed entirely of strings.

A major funding and organizational breakthrough came in 1966 when, through the vision of Arthur J. Holton, Sr., Chairman of the division of Arts and Letters at San Joaquin Delta College, the orchestra became a community service activity of the college, in cooperation with the Stockton Symphony Association, Stockton Unified School District and San Joaquin County Office of Education. At the same time, the orchestra was expanded to include winds and percussion.

In 1976, Kyung-Soo Won was selected music director and conductor of the Stockton Symphony and, concurrently, was hired as a teacher on the music faculty at San Joaquin Delta College. He also took the helm of the youth orchestra under its new, official name - Stockton Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

In 1978, the orchestra was reorganized and named the Central Valley Youth Orchestra. Parents and interested community members accepted jurisdiction of the orchestra, in cooperation with the Stockton Symphony Association. Ron Caviani, associate professor in composition, theory and orchestration at University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music, was selected as the conductor.

Caviani was followed to the podium in 1992 by Michael Allard, Associate Professor of Applied Music at the University of the Pacific's Conservatory of Music. In 1997, the Central Valley Youth Symphony was turned into an independent, non-profit organization. 

In the fall of 2000, Thomas Derthick, principal bassist of the Cabrillo Music Festival and Sacramento Philharmonic, assumed the baton of the Central Valley Youth Symphony. 

In addition to performing in a full-scale orchestra setting in regional concert halls, the Central Valley Youth Symphony has performed to critical acclaim in New York and abroad. In 1997, the orchestra captured the gold medal at the International Music Festival in the Sydney Opera House; the highlight of a nine concert tour through Australia and New Zealand. The orchestra has also performed twice in New York's Carnegie Hall (1995 and 2000) to standing ovations.  In the summer of 2003, the Central Valley Youth Symphony returned to Carnegie Hall for the third time, and received a five minute standing ovation.

In the fall of 2019, the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music will assume leadership of the CVYS.