You have permission to edit this article.

Forte: Who are your influences?

  • Updated
  • Comments

String members of the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Yakima Symphony Orchestra)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- In the 1991 Irish-British-American film “The Commitments,” Jimmy Rabbitte, a young music fanatic interviewing candidates for his newly forming soul band, cuts to the chase by asking a single question as he seeks to find musicians who are as passionate about soul music as he is:

“Who are your influences?”

It is the quintessential question, diving deeply into the core of what shapes, inspires and connects us: our influences. Employers know this. Colleges know this, filling their applications with questions to prompt students to reflect on those influences.

During the upcoming college application windows, the seniors in the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra (YYSO) will do precisely this, following in the footsteps of 51 seasons of Yakima Valley youth symphony musicians.

As student musicians write about their experiences with live orchestral music, the voices of Mozart and Beethoven will be heard, as will the voices and influences of their teachers and colleagues.

Like athletes on sports teams, they have developed and honed the skills and qualities of persistence, discipline, timeliness, dependability, creativity, problem-solving, thoughtfulness, communication, mindfulness, tolerance, consistency, flexibility, patience, responsibility, honesty and integrity. They embrace teamwork and multiple points of view.

They pursue excellence and are risk-takers. Fifty percent of YYSO students pursue music training in college.

The other half pursue everything else from astronomy to medicine to social sciences and beyond. If you see a successful professional person in our community, chances are good that she or he has youth symphony or similar musical experience in her or his past.

With such wide variation in the nature and number of opportunities available to young musicians in the Yakima Valley, YYSO fills a need: it provides orchestral performance experience for string students in school districts that have no string program, and it brings together students from across the Valley for a common purpose.

The Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra: It’s a powerful influence.


WHAT: Interested in joining or learning more about the Yakima Youth Symphony Orchestra (YYSO) and Yakima Ensemble for Strings (YES!)? Attend an open rehearsal for the 2017-18 season on Monday and/or Sept. 4.

WHEN: YES! is from 5-6 p.m.; YYSO is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Englewood Christian Church, 511 N. 44th Ave., Yakima.

SIGN UP: Call the Yakima Symphony Orchestra office at 509-248-1414 or email

FALL AUDITIONS: Sept. 9 or other dates by appointment. Schedule an audition by calling the Yakima Symphony Orchestra office at 509-248-1414 or email


• David Rogers is executive director of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Email him at or call 509-248-1414.

Load comments