Yang Kun Song, a native of Beijing, China, was born into a musical family and began studying cello with his father at the age of nine. In 1972, he was admitted to the Beijing Music Training Class. The following year he went to the Beijing Conservatory of Music to study with Min Yao Shen, the principal cellist in the Central Philharmonic Orchestra of China. Mr. Song graduated from Beijing Conservatory in1976 and later became the assistant principal cellist of the Beijing Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the Beijing Musicians Association and the Performing Arts Committee of the Chinese Violoncello Association.
In 1988, Mr. Song was sponsored to come to the United States by Dr. William Sloan and Dr. Paul Carter, on a recommendation by world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma. He studied cello with Professor Steven Elisha at the University of Toledo, Ohio, and graduated cum laude in 1993. Honored by a full scholarship, Mr. Song earned his Master's Degree in Music Performance at Central Arkansas University in Conway, studying with cello professor Felice Farrel. He was also a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Song is the founder of “Trio China” formed in Little Rock. In 1995, “Trio China” toured four major cities in China: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, and he gave master classes at conservatories. A highlight of his studies at Central Arkansas University was a second opportunity to serve as a demonstrating cellist in a master class taught by the respected performer and educator Janos Starker (the first time was at Indiana University in 1992).
After graduating from Central Arkansas University, Mr. Song returned to Toledo, where he presently resides. For several seasons he performed with The Lima Symphony.Mr. Song also maintains a private studio where he teaches all string instruments. Several of his students have won Toledo Symphony League scholarships. Two of his students have won the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Young Artist Competition and Toledo Youth Orchestra (TYO) Concerto auditions, earning the privilege to perform with these fine orchestras. In March of 2006, three of his students won the Northwest Ohio Buckeye String Competition for Elementary, Junior High, and High School Divisions. In March 2013, his students won first and second place honors in all age divisions of the District competition and second-place honors in elementary and junior high divisions at the State level. He has many orchestra students who have been selected to perform nationally at Carnegie Hall in New York City as members of the American High School Honors Orchestra Performance Series. Many of his students play in the Toledo Youth Orchestras. In 2008, Mr. Song was appointed Guest Cello Professor at Yanshan University's College of Performing Arts in Qinhuangdao, China. He is the founder, Music Director, and Conductor of The Greater Toledo International Youth Orchestra (GTiYO).
He has led the youth orchestra on tour to a different country each year beginning with China in summer 2007, Canada in spring 2007, Poland and Germany in 2008, Tanzania in 2009, Austria and Hungary in 2010, Japan and Korea in 2011, Peru in 2012, and Spain in 2014. In 2015, Mr. Song led the GTiYO on a return tour to China. Most recently, in July 2016, the GTiYO returned to Vienna, Austria for the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival. Mr. Song and members of GTiYO traveled next to Toronto, Ontario, June 2017, and participated in celebrations of Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation. In 2018, The ensemble and Mr. Song traveled to Switzerland as well as Coburg, Germany, Toledo’s newest sister city. In 2019, the orchestra returned to Mr. Song’s hometown Beijing, China and enjoyed the Great Wall Concert Tour. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented international travel for the summers for 2022-2022, however the group hope to once again travel internationally in 2023 to share our music and philosophy.
Currently, Mr. Song is a retired music educator from the Toledo Public Schools. He is married to Sharon Du and has a daughter, Lee Ann, who plays both piano and cello, and graduated from Harvard University in 2015.
Building on this history of success, Mr. Song looks forward to GTiYO’s future as we travel to experience other countries in the pursuit of our mission.
David Oliver received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Bowling Green State University and retired in 2011 after thirty-four years with Toledo Public Schools. During his career, in addition to his duties as director of the Toledo Junior Youth Orchestra for nine seasons, Mr. Oliver led orchestra classes at Bowsher and Scott High Schools, Old West End Junior High, and McTigue Middle Schools, and many Toledo elementary schools. He is currently the Conductor of the GTiYO's Junior Ensemble. Mr. Oliver resides in Bowling Green with his wife, former Waite High School orchestra director Pamela; they have three children.