Youth Orchestra of Bucks County - History
In March 1991, Carol Gimbel, an eighth-grade violist, returned from BCMEA String Day, where approximately 100 young string players gave up a Saturday to participate in an open rehearsal and performance. Carol, who had been traveling to Princeton each week for an additional orchestral experience, asked, "If there are so many young string players in Bucks County, why isn't there a youth orchestra here?" Her father, Joseph Gimbel replied, "Why don't we start one?" Carol called Mr. Robert Loughran, who had conducted BCMEA County Orchestra in 1991, and told him of their plan. She and her father invited several other music teachers in the area to provide input and in April of that year they agreed that a youth orchestra was a viable idea, that the Gimbels would organize it, and that Robert Loughran would be its conductor.
The Community Youth Orchestra of Bucks County, Inc. was incorporated in June 1991. In August 1991 Dr. Mark Benson, Music Coordinator at Bucks County Community College (BCCC), met with Bob Loughran and Joe Gimbel. He agreed that YOBC was an important venture, and arranged for YOBC to be co-sponsored by the College as part of its community outreach program. This provided YOBC with our first home in Tyler Hall on the BCCC campus. We continue to enjoy support from BCCC to this day.
Over the next few years, new ensembles were added to YOBC’s program to accommodate the needs of the county’s talented young musicians. Currently YOBC serves over 250 students in its three divisions: Advanced (Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble; Chamber Flute Ensemble; Honors String Quartet); Intermediate (Philharmonia, Wind Symphony; Ripieno, Flute Choir; Clarinet Ensemble); and Junior (Concertino, Prima Strings).
We are happy to have Colin Oettle as the current director of our junior ensembles and Chris Horner as conductor of Ripieno. Our developmental wind program, the Wind Symphony, is under the direction of Colleen Sweetsir, who also became Executive Director of YOBC in 2009. Steve Sweetsir directs our Wind Ensemble and Bob Loughran conducts the Philharmonia and the Symphony Orchestra and serves as YOBC's artistic director.
To date, YOBC has provided opportunities for nearly 2,000 students in Bucks and surrounding counties.