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Meet Dave Ferguson of Caesura Youth Orchestra in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave Ferguson.

Dave, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

I was introduced to the El Sistema model seven years ago. I began the Caesura Youth Orchestra by reaching out to a friend that I knew had been involved with the beginning of the Harmony Project and YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles).

This allowed me to get the organization started. After several months we were ready to begin working with students through an after-school program working with the local school district and having a kick-off fundraising event with the support of the LaSierra University Orchestra.

Our program begins with providing 9-12-year-old students with an introduction to music with the use of a recorder. When the students complete this three-month class, they are able to choose an instrument. They are able to choose from a violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet or trumpet. We started with zero instruments and through donations from individuals and foundations we now have an inventory of 100 instruments, including trombones, saxophones, french horns and an oboe that are ready for future use as the students are ready for them.

CYO began at one school and has now expanded to a second school. We would love to expand further as financial support allows. In the last six years, we have had the opportunity to make an impact on 200 students. If all of these students were still with us we’d have a great orchestra, but some have graduated to middle school, others have continued to expand their horizons with other activities as expected at this age group.

Over these years, we have provided the students not only with opportunities in the classroom but opportunities for performances in the community. They have been part of performances at the local hospital, on their school campus, at the Glendale Taste Walk, at the kick-off for CicLAvia in Glendale, at a Laemmle Live event and at a Christmas concert with an attendance of 800 where they played a piece commissioned for them. They were also able to visit the Grammy Museum through a gift from a foundation.

CYO has several Teaching Artists who provide instruction for the recorders, strings and woodwinds. This means we are constantly raising money to provide them with a small income for their work. Each class meets two days each week. We have been fortunate to have a wonderful group of teachers, many of whom have a doctoral degree in the performance area they teach. We have also provided a Summer Music Camp providing four hours of instruction five days a week for one month during the summer and concluding with a public performance.

Has it been a smooth road?
While we have had many successes and support for both dedicated individuals and a few foundations, it is a challenge every month to have the necessary funds to meet our payroll. We are constantly looking for new sources of revenue. We are also working to expand our board to allow us to have a greater impact on our community through dedicated board members.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We specialize in reaching students from low-income families who do not have the resources to provide music lessons, an instrument or music education to their children. The classroom teachers in the schools where we operate tell us that our students have become leaders in their class and have shown an ability to be mentors to other students. We know from national research that students who stick with a music program also see an improvement in all of their other studies. Our students have gone on to middle school and become leaders in their orchestra program.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Our city is the diversity capital of the world with more people from any country in our city than any where else in the world except their country of origin. This is especially true of the rich musical heritage that these members of our city provide.

It is regrettable that this wonderful diversity leads to conflict instead of to allowing our city to be the crown jewel of the world it could be.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Caesura Youth Orchestra
    610 E California Ave
    Glendale CA 91206
  • Website: www.mycyo.org
  • Email: Dave@mycyo.org

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