The genesis for the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra began after Ypsi Pride Day in 1998, when founding Music Director Adam C. Riccinto, and violinist Martha Kerns started chatting about the idea. They both felt there was a need for musicians to develop their skills, as well as offer quality orchestral music to the community. They each agreed to call some musician friends they knew and get the group together to explore the possibilities. These intrepid musicians met at Abe’s Coney Island over hotdogs, and together laid out a plan for contacting other local players, to find out if they were interested in participating. Within three weeks, they had recruited an orchestra. The vision became a reality when the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra was incorporated as a non-profit in 1999.
Soon after its establishment, the YSO began to concentrate on educational efforts. The YSO has sponsored youth concerto competitions to showcase talented young musicians. Concert seasons generally include at least one concert with an area youth or school group; prior collaborations include the Plymouth Canton Choirs, the young bluegrass trio “Cats and the Fiddler,” and the Washtenaw County Community College Jazz Ensemble.
An important aspect of the YSO’s growth has been its partnerships with regional organizations, to strengthen community ties and offer diverse musical experiences to its audience. The YSO is proud to perform each year with a Sphinx Competition winner; showcasing a talented young African-American or Hispanic musician in collaboration with the Sphinx Organization.
A highlight of recent years has been the 2010-11 season opening concert celebrating the history of Ypsilanti, in collaboration with resident jazz composer Paul Keller, the Ypsilanti Historical Society and the EMU Archives. Paul Keller’s masterpiece “The Ypsilanti Orchestral Jazz Suite” was premiered in front of a sell-out audience for this event.