On October 2015, an orchestra of 22 members debuted at the Las Vegas Flamingo Public Library playing Mozart’s “Adagio & Fugue in C minor”. The orchestra consisted of local students ranging from ages 14 to 22. The small group of musicians, elegant and powerful, demonstrated the sound of a full-blown high-end orchestra, that day. This tuition-free orchestra was the brain-child of Yunior Lopez. Yunior envisioned an orchestra composed of young artists who wanted to challenge their musical skills through cultural, diverse, and traditional music programming.
Since their debut, Yunior Lopez’s vision came full circle. The debut launched the Las Vegas Young Artist Orchestra. Since then, the group of 22 artists expanded into two major sections, the Academy and Symphony. The orchestra unites the most talented young musicians up to age 22, who bring their creativity and exceptional musicality to over 15 concerts and events per season. The program is currently comprised of the YAO Symphony featuring 70+ young musicians, up to the age of 22, the YAO Academy with 50+ students, up to the age of 18, and the YAO Percussion Ensemble. In 2018, the YAO created a professional chamber orchestra for gifted young artists, alumni, and established professionals to work in a side-by-side environment. The program is designed to help young artists enter the professional music scene through collaboration, engagement, and high level performance. During the 2019/20 season, the YAO celebrated its 5th anniversary with several commissions and premiers including One Night in Havana– an All-Cuban concert featuring music made popular by Buena Vista Social Club, a Toccata & Fugue composition by YAO alumni Arturo Hernandez, and the American debut of Christos Hatzis’ Rebirth for Viola and Orchestra with renowned violist Steven Dann. The One Night in Havana project was created by Yunior Lopez featuring Cuban singer Noybel Gorgoy with transcriptions by various Latin-American artists namely famed Cuban pianist Hilario Duran, veteran Canadian jazz bassist Roberto Occhipinti, Mexican composer Arturo Hernandez, and our very own Cuban conductor & violist, Yunior Lopez.
Founded on the basis of inclusive education and the development of young musicians through diverse music programming, the Young Artists Orchestra is fully dedicated to the artistic, personal, and professional growth of Southern Nevada students. The organization is recognized for its diverse student body, which is representative throughout the many cultural & performance events and activities it offers. Past events have featured unique collaborations & projects bridging classical music with a variety of genres and styles such as hip-hop, jazz, Latin-American, Chinese, and even opera. Unique collaborations include multiple hip-hop/jazz/funk projects with The Lique Band, One Night in Havana with Noybel Gorgoy, and Night at the Opera with Vegas City Opera, to name a few. The program also offers detailed exposure to traditional and modern orchestral and chamber music repertoire, collaborations with nationally and internationally recognized guest artists, in addition to unique performance opportunities. Past visiting classical artists include violinists Stanislav Pronin (concertmaster, Berlin Symphony), Qi Cao (North Carolina Symphony), and Roberto Taylor (Broadway violin veteran), violist Steven Dann (Royal Conservatory of Music, cellist Daniel Hass (Israeli-Canadian soloist), pianists Benjamin Smith (Royal Conservatory of Music), and Lucas Porter (Canadian soloist), and The Annex Quartet. Since 2015, the YAO has presented over 100 concerts & events in the Las Vegas community making it one of the largest presenters of music education & performing arts in Nevada. In 2020 the organization won the “Best of Las Vegas Silver Award” for Best Arts & Culture Event.
Since the inception of YAO in 2015, 100% of our high school graduates have studied at some of the finest music schools and universities in the United States, as well as abroad. Current students and alumni are attending or earned their degree from schools such as Yale University, Vanderbilt University, Indiana University, The Colburn School, Peabody Conservatory, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and the Lamont School of Music, to name a few.
The organization paid tribute to one of its distinguished supporters: Dr. Shirley Linzy. She was the Director & Supervising Nurse at the Adelson Clinic in Las Vegas. She oversaw the orchestras use of the rehearsal space next to the Adelson Clinic, and was a supporter of the orchestras mission and talent. As of October 2017, YAO was renamed after the late Dr. Shirley Linzy to The Dr. Shirley Linzy Young Artists Orchestra of Las Vegas. The organization remains as one of the few tuition-free youth orchestra programs in the United States.