Tempe may be home to three separate school districts, but one area high school teacher has devised a way to bring students from the city’s high schools, middle schools and elementary campuses together as one.
Corona del Sol music teacher Alex Dudley is the first conductor for the Tempe Youth String Orchestra.
“The Tempe Youth String Orchestra is a brand new ensemble, and to my knowledge nothing like this has ever been done in the past,” Dudley said.
The ensemble will be comprised primarily of students, grades 8 through 12, from Tempe Union High School District, Tempe Elementary School District and Kyrene School District, although students who instead attend private or charter schools are also encouraged to audition.
Dudley admits there are a number of youth orchestras or ensembles in the Valley, but it’s rare that any are devoted strictly to strings. That distinction, he notes, opens the students to a world of new musical opportunities.
“There are quite a few youth orchestras in the Valley, but all of them play only full-orchestra repertoire, that’s including percussion, brass and woodwinds,” Dudley said. “Our ensemble will be strictly strings music, which opens up literally thousands of new pieces of music that they would not otherwise be exposed like Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and Barber’s Adagio for Strings.”
Dudley, an orchestra, piano and guitar teacher at Corona del Sol High School for the past five years, received his music education degree at Northern Arizona University before continuing on to Arizona State University for his master’s.
“I was inspired to build the orchestra because I believe that the students could really get into it,” he said.
Under Dudley’s direction, TYSO will mix the sounds of students from the Tempe, Chandler and Ahwatukee areas for ten rehearsals and a performance at the Tempe Center for the Arts on Nov. 6.
Tempe Arts Jam, Dudley explained, is another local music show that brings together numerous grade levels to perform for the community. This year’s festival was held March 2 and Mountain Pointe High School in Ahwatukee.
The difference between the arts jam and the new string orchestra, he explains, is that while TAJ includes a number of separate ensembles that all perform at the same event, the orchestra aims to have students “come together and learn, rehearse and perform the same music together.”
Auditions for the Tempe Youth String Orchestra will be held Monday, Aug. 27 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Corona del Sol High School, and walk-ins are welcome. Each participant is required to pay a $40 tuition fee, after auditions, to cover a portion of the facility rental fee and a T-shirt.
More information on auditions, rehearsal dates and requirements is avialable online at aztecstrings.com/auditions.
• Caitlin, a senior studying public relations and journalism at Northern Arizona University, is an intern for the East Valley Tribune. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or email@example.com