Young Musicians Come Together for Opportunity of a Lifetime

Mike Lawson • News • January 19, 2016

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For three decades, very determined young musicians and their leader have participated in a unique opportunity with the Utah Youth Orchestras.

The young musicians all attend different high schools from Logan to Utah County, Tooele to Vernal. And the remarkable thing is they rehearse together only once a week.

“I think they end up coming from 36 different high schools,” said Barbara Scowcroft, the director and conductor.

For 30 years, Scowcroft, a first violinist with the Utah Symphony, has been at the helm. This is her vision, and she lovingly says these are her kids.

“They are some of the coolest people I know. They are some of the oldest and wisest souls that I know,” Scowcroft said. “They put it through their 2016 mind, body, spirit, soul and it’s new.”

Scowcroft instills in them the confidence to play the classics.

“One of the best things about the philharmonic is the caliber of the musicians,” said cello player Emma Fine, 18, from Ogden High School. “And the music is so amazing! When you’re able to say you’re playing Beethoven or Mozart, it’s so cool! We learn about more than playing the notes, we learn about the lives of the composers.”

John Myers, 17, from Skyline High School, plays the bassoon in the philharmonic and second violin in the Utah Youth Symphony.

“These people have a lot of the same interests as me, and it’s just a lot of fun to meet these people from all over who are just very amazing,” Myers said.

Scowcroft auditioned for the position in 1986 because she loves conducting and young people. She said she was pleased to get the gig, but then something happened.

“It was part way through the first rehearsal and I said to myself, ‘Oh, Barbara Ann dear, this is not a gig.’ This is a responsibility. It is a privilege. It is almost a holy responsibility. And I don’t mean to overuse that word,” she said.

Sometimes she conducts with huge, sweeping motions. Sometimes she crouches among her musicians. She is graceful and energetic. She is both a teacher and a cheerleader.

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