Message from the Conductor
I founded The Greater Toledo International Youth Orchestra (GTiYO) in 2013 to realize my dream of changing the lives of young musicians through traveling and performing music. We are one of the only youth orchestras in the United States that offers an international concert tour experience every summer. Since its founding, the GTiYO has been to Spain (2014), China (2015), Austria (2016), Canada (2017), Germany (2018), and China (2019). I am proud to announce that we have had over 100 students participate on international tours and we have awarded over $20,000 in scholarship funding. During my time as founder and music director of GTiYO, I have watched 100% of my orchestra students go on to college. Many have gone on to study at Ivy League universities, pursuing degrees in music, education, and international relations, among many other interests. From my own experiences, I can see how much of an impact traveling and receiving kindness from others can have on a person’s life. I want to take the skills I have learned here and return the kindness of those who helped me by extending my reach to a greater community.
In 2016, The Greater Toledo International Youth Orchestra formed a partnership with The University of Toledo under the guidance and direction of Dr. Jason Stumbo, Chair of the Department of Music. The University of Toledo has provided GTiYO with top notch rehearsal and performance facilities as well as excellent teaching resources. This partnership has been an invaluable asset in the pursuit of our mission of bridging cultural diversity through music performance.
In 2017, we were proud to establish the GTiYO Scholarship Fund for incoming freshmen attending the University of Toledo.
We are a group of young musicians dedicated to bridging cultural differences through music. Our focus is on giving quality performances and giving our students the opportunity to experience life in a foreign country first hand through interactions with other students just like them. Each year, GTiYO is dedicated to bettering relations with our sister cities. Getting our mayors to write letters of recognition and having a host are all things that are unique to GTiYO. While sightseeing and having fun will be important, our primary mission will be to educate others about our music and learn about theirs. Years after our trips, I have talked to students and their accounts of “that one palace we visited'' or “the one museum we toured'' are vague. But their memories of “Gabrielle Shao, that student I met in China and still email today” or “Arthur, that tenor from Australia that I met at the music festival in Vienna” are still vivid and meaningful. These are the experiences that change our students’ lives. These are the reasons they will choose to travel with GTiYO and the things that make GTiYO special: the quality of music, level of professionalism, and dedication to cultural exchange are what make GTiYO so profoundly unique. By exposing students to a greater global community, they develop compassion and a service-oriented mindset. When Hurricane Harvey struck, students organized a fundraising concert for hurricane relief groups. Before our trip to China, students raised money for a panda conservation to help prevent this native Chinese species from becoming extinct. When COVID impacted our world in 2020, students decided to raise money for patients impacted by the pandemic at the Toledo Children’s Hospital.
While I am committed to these values and goals for GTiYO, I am always open to suggestions and advice on how to improve the experience for our students and their families. I encourage you to come forward with new ideas for consideration and suggestions for improvement. I hope that we can plant and sow seeds that lead to a lifetime of growth, learning, making beautiful music, and building successful relations abroad together. I am looking forward to many musical years to come.
Mr. Yang Kun Song
GTiYO Music Director, Conductor, Founder