Youth orchestra taking shape

VSO’s Reg Quiring is looking for musicians in hopes of launching the Coquitlam Youth Orchestra in September.

Vancouver has one. So does Surrey, Abbotsford and Chilliwack. And Delta shares theirs with Richmond.

But when it comes to youth orchestras locally, the Tri-Cities has gone without. Until now.

Reg Quiring – a Coquitlam resident, music teacher and a violist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is auditioning talent for young classical musicians wanting to be part of a larger sound.

The new Coquitlam Youth Orchestra (CYO) will start in mid-September and, should there be enough successful candidates, will be split into two: the juniors — made up of musicians aged 10 to 13 with a minimum Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Level 3 — and the seniors — composed of musicians aged 14 to 18 with at least RCM Level 5.

Initial auditions have already taken place but some spots still remain.

Quiring said he has heard from many frustrated parents and music teachers who are forced to travel outside of the region to have their child or student in a youth orchestra.

“It’s a long distance, not to mention an expense, for them every week,” he said, adding, “I’ve been thinking about forming a youth orchestra for many years and I think Coquitlam is ripe for something like this.”

Growing up, Quiring played viola with the Calgary Youth Orchestra. Today, he talks about the benefits for youth to be part of musical organization, where peers can practice and socialize. “It’s a great atmosphere from the moment you step in the room,” he remembered. “It really inspires kids.”

Quiring went on to have a successful career in music after high school.  He founded and headed up the Suzuki viola program at the Vancouver Academy of Music, played at festivals and, with his wife, pianist Rosemary O’Connor, established the Quiring Chamber Music School, which runs a summer camp in Vancouver.

Their Quiring Chamber Players — along with prominent guest artists — have become a New Year’s Eve fixture at the Evergreen Cultural Centre. As a principal violist, Quiring has performed with the VSO, the Vancouver Opera and the Quebec Symphony.

The father-of-three, who has conducted for a short term with the Vancouver Academy Orchestra and a UBC string ensemble, said he envisions the first year with the CYO to be a little bumpy given that it’s a new experience for him and the players.

Still, “we will work out the kinks…. It’s a big task and I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to be fun.”

Quiring said once CYO gets grounded, Quiring hopes to host public performances.

“It would be really great to imitate the VSO but at a younger level,” Quiring said. “I think it’s something the Tri-City audience would love.”

• Visit to register or for more information, call 604-939-9313.