Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings Program Celebrates 30 Years

Over 5,000 students provided with instruction, instruments, and inspiration 

over three decades

DALLAS – October 12, 2022 – The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Young Strings program celebrates 30 years of educating the next generation of classical musicians this year. Established in 1992, the program has served over 5,000 students in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex since its inception, providing them with free access to instruments, expert instruction, outside learning and scholarship opportunities, and more. The program was founded by Dwight Shambley in Dallas with the intention to increase the diversity of American orchestras. Shambley was the only Black performer for many of his 48 years with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. 

The 30th anniversary of the program will be celebrated at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Showcase Recital on Saturday, November 12, where Young Strings students will perform with piano accompaniment. 

“This is the students’ first recital of the season and represents hours of practice and work with their teachers since the start of the school year,” said Carolyn Jabr, Young Strings Manager at the DSO.  “The younger children will be taking first steps into larger works. Our older students, especially the seniors, will be able to use this opportunity to present what will be their audition material for conservatories and colleges. It’s a wide range of talent, experience and music and it’s always rewarding to hear.”

The Young Strings program has a 100% high school graduation rate and largely serves students of color who attend schools without their own music programming. Participation in Young Strings provides a lasting impact on its students, many of whom go on to pursue higher education and careers in music, fulfilling the mission to increase diversity in arts spaces including orchestras. 

“It is always nice to see other people who are just like you in a position where you see yourself in the future,” remarked Matthew Morgan, former Young Strings student and mentee of Dwight Shambley. Morgan was accepted to every conservatory he applied to upon graduation from Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, with full scholarship offers from multiple schools.

“Not only has the Young Strings program changed the lives of many students, it has had a profound impact on our staff, musicians, and organization as a whole,” said Kim Noltemy, President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony Association. “100% high school graduation and college acceptance rates and multiple alumni leading successful careers educating young musicians shows the impact of representation and opportunity. We look forward to educating and inspiring the next generation of talented, diverse musicians in the next thirty years and beyond.”

ABOUT THE DALLAS SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: The Dallas Symphony Orchestra, under the leadership of Music Director Fabio Luisi, presents world-class orchestral music at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, one of the world’s top-rated concert halls. As the largest performing arts organization in the Southwest, the DSO is committed to inspiring the broadest possible audience with distinctive classical programs, inventive pops concerts and innovative multi-media presentations. In fulfilling its commitment to the community, the orchestra reaches more than 243,000 adults and children annually through performances, educational programs and community outreach initiatives. During the pandemic, the Dallas Symphony was one of a few major U.S. orchestras to present socially distanced concerts with live audiences throughout the 2020/21 Season. Furthermore, the orchestra has offered more than 200 outdoor chamber concerts in neighborhoods throughout the Metroplex since the summer. The DSO continued online music lessons to more than 300 students as part of its Young Strings and Young Musicians programs.

The Dallas Symphony has used digital and broadcast media to share music beyond its geographic boundaries and has become a leader among American orchestras in digital distribution. In 2021, the DSO presented a three-concert broadcast series with Bloomberg Media, reaching over 4 million viewers globally. In October 2021, PBS stations across the country began airing One Symphony, Two Orchestras, a program that documented the historic concert of Mahler’s First Symphony with the DSO and the musicians of The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in May 2021. That program was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in May 2022. The DSO also captures and streams concert performances for distribution online through its Next Stage Digital Concert Series, Presented by PNC Bank. Programs are available on the DSO’s website at watch.dallassymphony.org.

The DSO has a tradition dating back to 1900 and is a cornerstone of the unique, 118-acre Arts District in Downtown Dallas that is home to multiple performing arts venues, museums and parks – the largest district of its kind in the nation. The DSO is supported, in part, by funds from the Office of Arts & Culture, City of Dallas. 


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