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History

ECYS Founder, William Galbraith
William Galbraith began his career as a violinist and received his degree in music from San Jose State College where he served as concertmaster from 1960-66.  At the age of 21, Galbraith founded El Camino Youth Symphony.

El Camino Youth Symphony (ECYS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1963 by William Galbraith, a young maestro who envisioned an orchestra that would give youth musicians the opportunity to perform challenging standard professional repertoire.

Subsequent music directors include: Denis de Couteau (1969), Nelson Tandoc (1970-1974), Dr. Arthur Barnes (1975-1986), Leroy Kromm (1987-1988), Charles Barber (1989-1990), Melissa McBride (1991-1993), and Dr. Camilla Kolchinsky (1994-2014).  In early 2015, Dr. Kolchinsky retired after 20 years of stellar leadership as ECYS principal conductor and Music Director; her successor, Maestro Jindong Cai, stepped into the position, joining ECYS as Music Director and conductor of Senior Symphony. 

In 1965, Robert Sayre, then-principal cellist with the San Francisco Symphony, became one of the first professional musicians to perform with ECYS, essaying Haydn’s
Cello Concerto in D Major to enthusiast applause.  Since then, ECYS has continued to invite artists of international stature to perform as guest soloists with our highest level ensemble, Senior Symphony.  In 2013, ECYS celebrated our 50th Anniversary Season by welcoming two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Philippe Quint, Juilliard-trained pianist and winner of the 2007 Chopin Prize Naomi Kudo, and Principal Trumpet  of the Canadian Brass Brandon Ridenour.  Quint, in his second performance with ECYS, performed the Bruch Violin Concerto, and Ms. Kudo and Mr. Ridenour were featured in the Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra.

 
 
Dr. Camilla Kolchinsky served as Music Director for twenty seasons, as well as conductor of the Senior Symphony, Sinfonietta Orchestra, and Galbraith Honor Strings. She passed away in 2016 at the age of 84. Read about her incredible life on our Kolchinsky Scholarshsip page, and on her website.

Recent guests have include:

2017: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
2016: Jon Nakamatsu - Grieg Piano Concerto
2015: Sandra Shen - De Falla Noches en los Jardines España, and Chen Zhao - Sarasate Navarra for Two Violins
2014: Ilya Yakushev - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 

2013: Philippe Quint - Bruch Violin Concerto, and Naomi Kudo & Brandon Ridenour - Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra
2012Zuill Bailey - Dvorak Cello Concerto
2011: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra - Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
2010Claire Huangci - Saint-Saens Piano Concerto No. 2
2009: Michelle Kim, Assistant Concertmaster - New York Philharmonic, and cellist Sumire Kudo - Brahms Double Concerto
2008: Martin Chalifour, Principal Concertmaster - Los Angeles Philharmonic -  Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

2006: David Kim, Concertmaster - Philadelphia Orchestra - Bruch Scottish Fantasy
2006Robert Chen, Concertmaster - Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Brahms Violin Concerto
2005: Rueibin Chen - Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1
2004Jon Nakamatsu - Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1
2003: Alexander Barantshik - Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1
2002: Jon Nakamatsu - Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2, and Dr. Michail Gelfandbein - Bruch Kol Nidrei
2001Vladamir Viardo - Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 
2000: Bin Huang and Inna Nassidze - Brahms Double Concerto
1996: Philippe Quint - Paganini Violin Concerto 

Concerts tours, retreats, participation in music festivals, and exchanges with other youth orchestras are a vital part of the ECYS experience.   In 1987, Senior Symphony participated in the World of Music Festival in Hawaii, and in 1989, was honored to be the first ensemble from California to participate in the Carnegie Hall American Youth Debut Series in 1989.  In January of 2012, Senior Symphony debuted at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco as a part of the Bay of Hope Festival.

In 2015, to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Finland's most well-known composer, Jean Sibelius, ECYS presented an all-Sibelius program featuring stunning Finnish violinist Minna Pensola; the event was sponsored by grants from the Finlandia Foundation and Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation.

This season, ECYS ushers in a new chapter, celebrating our 55th anniversary with a spate of captivating concerts, and some special surprises.  Join us!

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