Young musicians wanted for The New Youth Orchestra


By Karen Billing

A trio of local musicians has recently founded The New Youth Orchestra and the call is out for talented young musicians to fill the chairs.

“We’re relying on our students and the interest of the community to build something in our backyard,” said co-founder Elena Yarritu, a Carmel Valley flutist.

Yarritu teamed up to create the orchestra with violinists John and Miguel Ramirez, who own San Diego String Instruments in Sorrento Valley. All three are very active in the private music instruction community and have many students in the North County area.

“We’ve all been looking for opportunities for our students and there’s a limited amount out there right now,” Yarritu said. “There’s a real need for something like this in the community and a huge interest.”

The orchestra has openings in all sections: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion in elementary, intermediate and advanced levels ages 6 to 18.

There is no application fee for auditions, which are scheduled May 26-28 and June 2-3 at San Diego String Instruments, 10855 Sorrento Valley Road, suite 2. For audition requirements and an application, visit

The trio brings a lot of quality musical experience to the group.

Yarritu performs frequently in the area and is a member of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, as well as being on the faculty of the San Diego Symphony and Conservatory. Her passion lies in teaching and she has conducted since she was 16 years old.

The Ramirez family has been involved in the music education scene in San Diego since 1968, beginning with John’s pioneering father Margarito. John and his son Miguel consider themselves the caretakers of his musical legacy. The Ramirezes also play most string instruments, the guitar and Miguel also sings.

Miguel said that playing in an orchestra offers a “completely different experience” than just one-one-one lessons with your music teacher.

“There’s the social interaction with other kids,” Miguel said. “The kids are working as a team to build something, taking each one of their skills and making it work together to make something great.”

With the orchestra, students will learn to play a variety of musical styles from Mozart to more contemporary pieces. There will be special and unique kinds of performances, but the group is keeping their ideas close to the vest for now; they promise it will be something different than what anybody else is doing.

They plan to have a string orchestra, band/wind ensemble, wind group and full orchestra. Practices are expected to be held once a week on Saturdays, building up to two concerts a season.

John said it’s important that the orchestra be a support system for what the young musicians are doing in school programs or with private lessons. They hope the New Youth Orchestra will encourage a stronger interest in music, getting musicians practicing and wanting to improve, not only enhancing their school programs, but getting youngsters to “reach higher potential in their playing.”

“It’s a win-win for everybody: private teachers, students and schools,” said Yarritu. “It all ties together.”

For audition information and more, visit