From left: Nathan Oberholtzer, violin, a senior at Eastern Mennonite High School, and Mariette Southard, violin, a senior at Turner Ashby High School, will be the featured soloists during the Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra and Junior Strings ensemble's spring concert on Sunday, March 24, at 7 p.m. (Photos provided by the Preparatory Music Program at EMU)

Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra Ushers in Spring Season

The 40-member Shenandoah Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra and the 13-member Junior Strings ensemble, part of the Preparatory Music Program at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), will present a spring concert on Sunday, March 24, 2013, at 7 p.m., in EMU’s Lehman Auditorium.

The junior strings ensemble, under the direction of Sharon Miller, will play a classical selection by Albinoni and two contemporary pieces. This intermediate-level group has members from Augusta, Rockingham and Page counties.

The youth orchestra will perform a movement of “Symphonie Espagnole” by Lalo featuring Mariette Southard, portions of the “Summer” Concerto by Vivaldi featuring Nathaniel Oberholtzer, the “Overture to Rienzi” by Wagner, Washburn’s “New England Holiday” and “Danzón No. 2” by Marquez.

“A unique feature of the concert will be the Latin American piece “Danzón No. 2” never performed before in this area,” said Sharon Miller, administrative director of the preparatory music at EMU. “It is based on the rhythm of danzón, a Cuban dance form, written by the Mexican composer, Arturo Marquez. The work features solos by individual orchestra members as well as sections of the orchestra. Numerous percussion instruments as well piano add to the exciting rhythms and Latin flavor. This is a piece Maria Lorcas, instructor in preparatory music, heard often while growing up in Venezuela.”

Lorcas conducts the orchestra whose members are from Rockingham, Augusta, Shenandoah and Page counties and West Virginia.

About the soloists

Nathaniel Oberholtzer, violin, and Mariette Southard, violin will be the featured soloists during the evening’s concert.

Oberholtzer is the son of Roger and Doris Oberholtzer. A senior at Eastern Mennonite High School (EMHS), he is the class president and is a member of the National Honor Society, the school orchestra and has participated in regional orchestra ensembles. A member of the EMHS Touring Choir, Oberholtzer was chosen for the All Virginia Choir. He has been a member of the youth orchestra for five years and is currently an intern with the Shenandoah Valley Preparatory Music program as a violin teacher. He has studied violin with Lorcas and Joan Griffing, PhD, at EMU. After high school, he plans to major in pre-med.

Mariette Southard is the daughter of Michael and Pam Southard. A senior at Turner Ashby High School (TA), she is a member of the National Honor Society and the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Southard is a member of the Turner Ashby Singers, the Chamber Choir and the Wind Ensemble. She has been a member of the youth orchestra for nine years and has been selected by audition for the Senior Regional Orchestra and the All-Virginia Orchestra. An active solo performer, Southard has participated in several honors recitals and competitions. She has studied violin since 1997 through EMU’s preparatory music program, currently studying with Griffing. After graduation, Southard plans to study violin performance in college.

A $5 donation is requested at the door to assist in the operation of these groups. There will be a reception for the audience following the concert.

History of Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra

The youth orchestra began in 1990 as a strong ensemble and in part through a grant from the Virginia Commission of the Arts. The ensemble grew to a full orchestra in its next season and is the only opportunity for instrumental students to participate in such a group this side of Charlottesville and Winchester.

The preparatory music program has over 400 students enrolled this year in instrumental lessons, Musikgarten and the youth orchestra. Students become members by audition and perform three or four public concerts per year. Rising seniors may audition to play a solo with the orchestra.

Sharon Miller is the program director. Inquiries to the youth orchestra should be made to 540-432-4277 or