A new Quad City Symphony Youth Ensembles (QCSYE) season has begun, but we’d like to thank our 2017–18 graduates for their impact on the organization! Together they inspired young musicians in their community through Symphony Day, developed new friendships, and challenged their conductors to reach new levels of musicianship. Here are a few of the QCSYE graduates and their plans for the future. As they begin their life after high school, we wish them the best of luck and hope they continue their passion for music!

Jill Schenck
Jill, a five-year violist in the Youth Symphony Orchestra, recently graduated from Bettendorf High School and now attends the University of Iowa. She is keeping her options open regarding her career path, but her love of music has and will continue to be a vital part of her education. Jill fondly remembers Symphony Day where she “enjoyed helping inspire children to get involved in music.” Jill inspired over 30,000 fourth grade students during her time in the Youth Symphony Orchestra. She plans to continue performing during her college years in the University of Iowa Orchestra.

Drew Duncan
Drew, who earned a trumpet position in the Youth Symphony Orchestra during his senior year of high school, has made a great impact on the QCSYE program. He graduated from West High School in Iowa City and will continue to study music at the University of Iowa where he will pursue a degree in trumpet performance. Drew describes his friendships with other QCSYE members as one of his greatest memories in the Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Mackenzie Rice
Mackenzie began her QCSYE career as a violinist in the Youth Prelude Strings in 2010. She joined the Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2013 and graduated from the program as co-concertmaster. Mackenzie plans to major in computer science at Iowa State University. She would like  to pursue a minor in music, participate in the Iowa State University Symphony, and join a music sorority. Her fondest memory of her experience in the QCSYE is when she and her friends performed alongside the Piano Guys as a sophomore in high school.

Haley Nicholson
Haley, a dedicated cellist in the QCSYE program, says the friendships she formed in the QCSYE were a product of a strong community of young musicians. She says, “I love the environment and how everyone supported each other.” Haley is attending the University of Northern Iowa where she plans to double major in music education and performance. Her goal is to earn a doctorate in music performance to teach collegiate cello. Her passion for music education stems from her experiences with her own teachers: “My greatest inspirations have been my teachers and I want to be that inspiration for others throughout my life.”

Caleb Engebrecht
Caleb EngebrechtCaleb began playing in the Youth Symphony Orchestra in 2013 as a percussionist. His fondest memories of his time in the program include rehearsing and performing with QCSO musicians in the annual Side-by-Side Concerts. Caleb plans to major in Mechanical Engineering at Western Illinois University – Quad Cities. He will continue to perform in various ensembles during the summer months and take private percussion lessons during the school year.

Ryan Benac
Ryan performed on horn for the Youth Symphony Orchestra for four years. He graduated from Rockridge High School and is now attending Augustana College. Ryan is pursuing a degree in instrumental music education and hopes to become a band director. Ryan’s favorite memory is the Youth Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Pines of Rome” by Ottorino Respighi during the Side-by-Side concert in 2015. He currently plays horn for the Augustana Symphonic Band and Augustana Symphony Orchestra.


Article by
Chelsea Schwarzkopf
QCSYE General Manager

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