MYSO’s flagship ensemble, this 130-member symphony orchestra of advanced musicians presents a variety of major concerts each season, including an annual concerto performance by a renowned soloist plus a celebrated choral work. The very accomplished musicians in the Senior Symphony have undertaken a number of domestic and international tours over the last 50 years. Most students in this group are in grades 10-12.
An International Reputation
The Senior Symphony has achieved an enviable international reputation for excellence. Their most recent tour, in July 2012, took them to the Czech Republic and Austria. The 107-member group performed July 10, 2012, in a sold-out Gala Winners' Concert, the culminating event of the prestigious Summa Cum Laude International Youth Festival and Competition in Vienna. The Festival included 34 ensembles from 31 countries and involved 1500 young musicians. MYSO, which won a spot in the competition via audition, was the only American orchestra invited to compete before an internationally renowned jury, which awarded it second place "with outstanding success" in the symphony orchestra category.
- In 2009, the orchestra, with MYSO's Bronzeville Jazz Quintet, traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a seven-day performance tour.
- In the summer of 2007 the orchestra toured China, the extraordinary "Beijing and Beyond!"
- In 2000, the Senior Symphony participated in the National Youth Orchestra Festival in Sarasota, Florida, as one of only five invited youth orchestras.
- In 1999, the orchestra traveled to Quebec, Canada, with a performance in Montreal.
- In 1997, MYSO traveled to Spain and Italy, with five very well-received performances.
- In 1994, the 114-member Senior Symphony performed before a near-capacity audience in New York's legendary Carnegie Hall.
- In 1991, MYSO represented the United States at the Aberdeen (Scotland) International Youth Festival of the Performing Arts, with additional performances in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They returned with a number of formal and informal awards for solo, chamber ensemble, and orchestral achievement.
- In 1987, they traveled to Switzerland, France, and Austria, where their performances were extremely well-attended and widely hailed for their superb quality.
- Tours prior to 1987 included Switzerland, Scotland and Puerto Rico.
Why We Tour
Touring offers extraordinary opportunities for social and emotional growth, as well as sheer fun and excitement. With MYSO, overlaying all of this, of course, is the expectation of an outstanding musical experience, with the tour giving the orchestra and the young musicians a focus for their energies all season!
Over the years, MYSO and other youth orchestras have found that touring often helps an ensemble—and the individual players—to bond socially; often they are catapulted to an entirely new level of musical performance, both before and during the tour. Our wonderful performances--most recently in Vienna and Prague--in Vancouver and Whistler in British Columbia, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and the spectacular 2007 tour to China are all evidence of that phenomenon. For all of these reasons, touring is an exceptionally valuable—sometimes life-changing—aspect of a youth orchestra experience.
Senior Symphony Music Director
Ms. Deutsch has been the conductor and music director of MYSO’s Senior Symphony since 1987. She served as Director of Orchestras and Professor of Conducting at UW-Milwaukee from 1984 to 2012 and received the UWM Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1990. Prior to taking the UWM position, she served as Music Director of the Shreveport (LA) Symphony. She has worked with many professional orchestras including the Women’s Philharmonic (CA), Charleston Symphony (SC), South Dakota Symphony, and Dayton Philharmonic (OH) and has guest conducted numerous choirs in the Milwaukee area. She has been a frequent guest conductor for the MSO’s Youth Concert Series and is in demand for all-state and district orchestra festivals throughout the country. She has led MYSO on concert tours to Switzerland, Austria and France, Scotland, Carnegie Hall, Spain and Italy, Montreal, the National Youth Orchestra Festival in Sarasota (FL), China, and most recently to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. She has studied at Aspen, Tanglewood, and the prestigious Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy and has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Colin Davis, Thomas Briccetti, Sergiu Comissiona, Samuel Baron and Jan DeGaetani. She holds an MM in orchestral conducting, an MA in musicology and a BA in flute and vocal performance. She has served four terms on the Board of the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras.
Senior Symphony Associate Conductor
Shelby Keith Dixon
Mr. Dixon has been a MYSO conductor since 1984 and Senior Symphony Associate Conductor since 1988. He is the retired Director of Orchestras and Chairman of Fine Arts at Homestead High School in Mequon. Before going to the Mequon-Thiensville School District in 1975, he served as Choral Director at Deerfield High School , Deerfield, IL. For six years, he was Assistant Professor of Music at Alverno College in Milwaukee. There he taught the History and Literature of Music and was Musical Director of Theatre Alverno. Mr. Dixon has extensive background in brasses, keyboard and strings. He has served as Music Director of Milwaukee Players at the Pabst Theatre, conductor with the Sullivan Chamber Ensemble Orchestra, Musical Assistant with Milwaukee's Music Under the Stars, Assistant Conductor of the Northwestern University Chapel Choir and Interim Music Director of the Elgin (IL) Youth Symphony Orchestras. He holds both the BMusEd and MM in the History and Literature of Music from Northwestern University, where he was a conducting student of the late John Phillip Paynter. He has taught on the music education faculty of Concordia University - Wisconsin, supervises student teachers in music education, and has served on the boards of directors of the Milwaukee Civic Music Association and Gathering on the Green.