March 6, 2023
By Kyra Droog
There are many milestones to celebrate within a Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA) student’s journey. We celebrate a student’s first day of YONA, when they get to meet their new friends, receive their cardboard instrument, and take the first steps in their new, musical journey. Crowds of parents, teachers, and community members cheer at instrument graduation, when students receive their real instruments and play their first note together in a cacophony of beautiful, musical chaos. The YONA Winter Concert is typically the first time YONA students get to perform at the Winspear Centre, and the excited energy they feel when they stand on the stage and play their instruments fills the entire hall.
Just like we celebrate the milestones experienced by our YONA students, we also celebrate the milestones of our YONA program. The 2022/2023 season marks our tenth anniversary: ten years sharing the joy of learning and music with our communities. Our program has grown from twenty students to over 200. What started as one YONA site has now expanded to five. YONA has positively impacted hundreds of lives over its first ten years, and we’re looking forward to the thousands more we get to support in the future.
Of course, we couldn’t do what we do without the amazing support of our communities, volunteers, and sponsors. We’re especially grateful to BioWare for their generous, continued support of YONA. Thanks to YONA sponsors like BioWare, we can grow our program to heights we didn’t think were possible. For instance, last year, YONA had six flute players. This year, we’re proud to have forty-six flute players - more than a 400% increase in just one year. Funds from BioWare helped us purchase the flutes to give to new players, helping them along their musical journey. Many of these flute players are joining us from a new cohort at Kipohtakâw YONA, that started because of the high demand for YONA in our communities.
YONA is growing, and with it, so is our determination. We started with 20 students, and now we have well over 200. YONA’s growth over the past ten years has been truly remarkable, and we’re looking forward to what the next ten years bring. We’re so grateful to everyone who supports us by sharing our story, making donations, and keeping room for us in your hearts. Year 10 isn’t over yet, so stay tuned for more exciting news and events to come!
This blog post brought to you by Bioware