The Metro Praise Youth Orchestra offers top teenage musicians a place to keep up their chops when school is out. It is highlighted by:
With Sunday evening performance opportunities on the decline, it was around 2003 that the semi-pro Metro Praise Orchestra began its service to the secular community. By 2008 the MPO was performing for a number of band booster events, at the request of MPO members who were high school band directors. That exposure in schools led to inquiries from teenagers asking to join the MPO.
In response, MPO founder Gary Phillips piloted a youth program in 2010. With MPO music and equipment, and a college jazz professor in front the experimental band, this group of handpicked kids would meet right after the adult band. Students were vetted by directors and private teachers — and those who made up that first band were impressive. (Check out the alumni page!)
Following a successful 2010 pilot, we officially launched the Metro Praise Youth Orchestra in 2011. The organization was awarded a unique grant from the Arts Council of NE Tarrant (known then as Artsnet), which funded an expanded offering while keeping costs low for local families.
With Arts Council grants subsidizing tuition, the MPYO continues without cost-prohibitive price hikes. IRS recognition of the band as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2015 made the organization eligible for additional funding, so we can continue to make MPYO better while keeping it affordable. Our goal is to keep MPYO more affordable than out of town camps or traveling drum corps. With support of the arts council, the price per 3-hour meeting is comparable to the cost a 30-minute private lesson.
Look what the MPYO offers:
MPYO is highlighted by performances at Six Flags and Hawaiian Falls. We have also forged partnerships with Mountasia Family Fun Center and the Salvation Army’s Camp Hoblitzelle, where activities ensure the MPYO is not all work and no play.
Adults from the MPO, and faculty from local colleges took an interest. They began to offer master classes, sectionals and combo clinics. Since inception, our students have exposed to local pros who had performed with Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, the US Navy Show Band, Liberty University, Clark Terry, Count Basie, Buddy Rich and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
The adult band had scheduled a recording session in 2011, and this afforded students the opportunity to record two tunes with professional recording engineer James Warden. Our first recording session was under direction of Prof. Keith Umbach of Brookhaven College. This was a first recording experience for most high school students.
The band recorded again in 2014, and again in 2016. Several soloists.
Over the next few years, the band would attract more All State Band members. In fact, MPYO kids have held berths in Texas All State Jazz Ensembles every year since 2011, and we are very-well represented in concert ensembles.
Since 2014, every member of MPYO has been an All Region Band qualifier — most holding seats high in the section.
UNT graduate student and One O’clock Lab band alumnus Justin Pierce became resident conductor in 2013 (link here to Justin’s bio on the “About”). Short, accelerated sessions were added during school holidays.