YYSO History
Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra History – Timeline

1965: The Yakima Youth Orchestra gets its start as a small string ensemble by a local music teacher and is sponsored by the Yakima School District.

1972: The Yakima Symphony Orchestra (YSO) offers the group tax-exempt status as a YSO Committee. We continue, today, as a subsidiary of the YSO. A member of our Governing Committee serves on the YSO Board. 

1993: The Yakima Junior Strings forms as a precursor to YYSO.

1996: With a full complement of instruments, our name officially changes to the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra (YYSO).

1999: The Yakima Junior Strings changes its name to the Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES!).

2001: A Wind Ensemble forms, but not is sustained long-term.

2007: After performing for many years in schools, churches and other public settings, the YYSO and YES! perform on the Capitol Theatre stage in Yakima, Washington. This is an unparalleled opportunity for our students to perform in a professional performance environment. We appreciate our connection with this Yakima community treasure and it has become our regular performance venue.

2011: Carol Alexander, long-time conductor of the YYSO, retires.

2011: Bruce Walker becomes the YYSO conductor.

2020, Spring: COVID-19 pandemic shuts down in-person rehearsals and performances.

2020-2021 Season: YYSO-YES implements a fully virtual program via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021-2022 Season: In-person rehearsals and performances resume, albeit with social distancing, masking and other COVID-19 pandemic protocols.

2022, Fall: Bruce Walker resigns as conductor of the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra (YYSO).

2022, Fall Semester: Interim YYSO Conductor Josh Gianola conducts the YYSO.

2023, Spring Semester: Interim YYSO Conductor Brian Petilo conducts the YYSO.

2023, Fall: Christy Baisinger concludes her tenure with the Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES).

2023: Brian Petilo becomes the YYSO conductor. Tim Rooney becomes the Youth Symphony String Program Director, responsible for conducting the Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES) and also for working with YYSO string students to support their ongoing development, to maintain a consistent path for artistic growth of string students throughout the YYSO-YES program.