Our Story

Founded in 2013 by conductor Yang Kun Song, The Greater Toledo International Youth Orchestra (GTiYO) is a string orchestra that performs a diverse repertoire, including traditional and modern Chinese music, as well as Western compositions. Mr. Song was the founder and the previous music director/conductor of the Toledo International Youth Orchestra (TIYO). That orchestra achieved considerable musical notoriety over the past 13 years under Mr. Song's direction as they performed in venues throughout the Toledo area and abroad. It had the distinct honor of performing with local talent from the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and the members of the Bowling Green State University Music Department. As TIYO developed over the years, Mr. Song's reach extended to young musicians throughout Northwest Ohio and Southern Michigan. To better serve the youth in this expanded region, and redirect his focus and passion for bridging cultures through music, Mr. Song resigned from his position with GTiYO, and has gathered some of the finest young musicians from the region. 

Many of these talented young musicians have won prestigious regional competitions, scholarships, and numerous other awards. Varied in backgrounds, cultures, and interests, the members of GTiYO share the common goal of increasing their knowledge and understanding of cultures through music.Mr. Song has a long history of success in facilitating this international exchange of culture through music. In April 2007, he took his previous orchestra on a concert tour visiting Toledo's Sister City Qinhuangdao and Beijing in the People's Republic of China. They also visited London in Ontario, Canada later that year. In 2008, his group performed in Europe, visiting two other Toledo Sister Cities: Poznan, Poland, and Delmenhorst, Germany. In the summer of 2009, Mr. Song led a trip to Tanzania, East Africa that included a visit to Toledo's Sister City of Tanga. The group performed at the American Embassy in Dar Es Salaam in front of world diplomats for a Fourth of July celebration. 

In 2010, his group competed in the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival and Competition in Vienna, Austria, and visited Toledo's Sister City of Szeged, Hungary. With a desire to continue expanding the bridges of international cooperation and knowledge, Mr. Song's previous orchestra traveled to Korea and our Sister City of Toyohashi, Japan in 2011. Finally, in late June 2012, Mr. Song's last international trip with TIYO was to South America, touring several cities in Peru, including Lima, Cisco, and Machu Pichu. Mr. Song led the GTiYO in mid-July, 2014, on their first international musical tour through Toledo, Segovia, Cordoba, Seville, Costa del Sol, Granada, and Madrid in Spain. In July 2015, the GTiYO returned to Sister City Qinhuangdao and Beijing in the People's Republic of China. Early in July 2016, Mr. Song with the GTiYO, again attended the Summa Cum Laude Int'l. Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria. In June 2017, GTiYO traveled to Toronto, Canada to participate in celebrations of Canada's 150 anniversary of Confederation. The following summer of 2018, the ensemble and Mr. Song traveled to Coburg, Germany, Toledo’s newest sister city, and Switzerland. Next, in 2019, the orchestra returned to Mr. Song’s hometown of Beijing, China and enjoyed the Great Wall Concert Tour.  The summers of 2020-2022 did not allow for travel as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented international travel.  In 2023, the orchestra hopes to once again travel internationally.  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.