Franklin Countys First News

Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra bringing eclectic program to Farmington on March 1

Conductor Andrew Forster gestures as the 2020 Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra rehearses in the Bjorn Auditorium at Mt. Blue High School.

FARMINGTON - Local music-lovers will have a rare opportunity to enjoy a full, youth orchestra at Mt. Blue High School in two weeks, as Mid-Maine Youth Orchestra brings 37 talented, western and central Maine musicians to the Bjorn Auditorium on March 1. As always, MMYO will also put on a concert for central Maine fans at the Messalonskee High School on Feb. 28.

Now in its 36th season, this year's MMYO draws upon nine school districts as well as home-schooled students to create a full orchestra. Ages 12 to 18, the 37 students represent grades 7 through 12. Franklin County schools sending students include Spruce Mountain High School, MBHS and Mt. Blue Middle School.

The regional orchestra augments rather than supplants the students' district programs; MMYO is deliberately scheduled over a relatively short period of time to minimize conflicts. Conductors Andrew Forster and Daniel Keller only have their musicians for 10 rehearsals and two concerts.

"It's a unique schedule," Keller said, "but it's manageable for students that are also in drama, that are skiers or that are in other music programs."

In addition to their district programs, MMYO musicians boast a list of musical accomplishments: 12 high school members were selected to perform in the Maine Music Educators' Association’s 103rd annual All-State Music Festival, 14 middle and high school students participate in the Kennebec Valley Music Educators Festival and two students were accepted into the District 3 Music Festival for both band and jazz band. MMYO is also continuing its partnership with the Kennebec Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra, based in Augusta. This partnership facilitates student participation in both full orchestra programs.

Besides providing students with an opportunity to play with their peers from other districts, MMYO offers what Manager Kathleen Pike called a rare opportunity for middle and high school students: a full youth orchestra, with all of its component parts: strings, brass, wind and percussion.

"We've got this gemstone in western and central Maine," Pike said.

As always, Keller and Forster will lead MMYO through a mix of classical orchestra offerings - Turkish March from 'The Ruins of Athens' by Ludwig van Beethoven and L'Arlésienne Suite by Georges Bizet - as well as more eclectic choices: the theme music from the movie Apollo 13 by James Horner, for example, or Inchon by Robert W. Smith, which brings a "helicopter" onto the stage. Other pieces incorporated into this year's concert includes Waltz by Ilari Hlkilӓ, Academic Festival Overture by Johannes Brahms, Saturday Night Waltz from ‘Rodeo’ by Aaron Copland, Por Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel, Jupiter - Bringer of Jollity by Gustav Holst.

The first concert will be held at the Performing Arts Center at Messalonskee High School in Oakland on Feb. 28, beginning at 7 p.m. The second concert will be held at the Bjorn Auditorium at Mt. Blue High School on March 1 in Farmington, beginning at 3 p.m. The snow dates for the Oakland and Farmington concerts are Feb. 29 and March 8, respectively. Admission to the concerts is free; donations are welcomed at the door.

MMYO is sponsored by the students and their families. Donations are welcome to defray the costs of music and other supplies. Advertising opportunities are available. The program's website is Contact Kathleen Pike at 897-5815 for information about the concerts, advertising, sponsorship or future membership.

Follow MMYO on Facebook at

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