Simply Astounding Young Musicians

La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra will amaze you with their enthusiasm and musicianship.
Photo: Jocelyn Connor

The Future is Music - Music Is for Life!

Come to audition for a seat in La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra.

Contact the Orchestra Manager at to book your audition.

In The Spotlight

February 23, 2020 at 3pm

This is the most challenging concert of the season for La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra. Don’t miss this showcase of the best young musicians in the region.

Soup & Symphony

Watch and listen to us rehearse!
At this event we open our rehearsal doors to the public, where they can taste a variety of delectable soups donated by local businesses and bid on an array of donated items in a Silent Auction format.

LJYO Saturday Rehearsals have been suspended until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact Orchestra Manager at for information

Concert Tickets

You can buy your tickets securely online now!

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  • Home For The Holidays
  • In The Spotlight
  • Sonic Bloom

Many thanks to our

2019-2020 Concert Season sponsor


Tamara Mitchell

I was a member of LJYO from 1999-2003 and was honored to act as concertmaster for my final 2 seasons. I feel very lucky to have been part of an orchestra that played at such a high level. I loved getting to play major works such as “Finlandia” and excerpts from “The Four Seasons”, among many others. To this day, Michael Lyons’ coaching and musicality stays with me. I continue to “drop the dot” at every opportunity.

After I graduated from high school, I went on to study music at the U of T as a vocal major. I then completed a B. Ed and M. Ed at OISE and have been a French Immersion teacher for the TDSB ever since. While I miss very much having the opportunity to play orchestral and chamber music, music remains an important part of my life. I teach several courses at Durham Music Camp (with my mom, Laurie Mitchell) in the summers, and I am a soloist at Church of the Redeemer in Toronto. I also sing with other choral groups in the city, including a cute little doo-wop band called “The Redeemers” – check us out!!

Brenda Scott (nee Carkner)

I played cello in LJYO from 2004-2008. Although I currently work as an accountant, I still regularly play cello for community theater productions in the Durham and Northumberland areas.


Courtney Dakers

I was a member of LJYO from 2009-2013 as a flutist. I gained a lot of musical skills through our rehearsals that I used throughout my education in music. As I went on to do an undergraduate degree in Music Education and a Masters degree in teaching, I gained more and more appreciation for my time with LJYO. Just to list a few things: the importance of listening while making music, sight reading skills, learning orchestral repertoire (which makes listening to the Classical FM station enjoyable), knowledge of instruments other than my own, solo instrumental repertoire that was learned for our auditions, making music with the conductor and of course the importance of space (“drop the dot”, as Michael would say). The friendships I had with those musicians whom I met in LJYO still continue today, and I am excited to reunite with them whenever the time arises. The LJYO community is always welcoming to everyone. 

The most important skills that I learned in LJYO were a commitment to practicing and learning to love the challenges put on our music stands. Having positive role models to learn alongside and being given the opportunity to be a role model were benefits that have propelled me forward to a career in music education. LJYO influenced me to see TSO and operas and of course to spread the love for music. I am thankful to have the opportunity for our family to be committed to LJYO (Mom, Dad, Tiffani, Brooke, and Cameron), and I am so excited that LJYO continues to inspire other growing musicians, just as it did for our family.

Charly Phillips

My time with LJYO (2009-2015) was full of musical and personal growth. There was nothing like the feeling of being part of a greater whole that I experienced while playing with this orchestra. Age is no barrier in LJYO, and I cherish the friendships and connections I formed with coaches and members alike. From master classes with renowned musicians to leadership positions, LJYO was full of inspiring learning opportunities that I would not be the same without today.

 I’m currently studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Waterloo and working as a bioinformatics intern at the Hospital for Sick Children. Music is still a huge part of my life; I’m an active violinist in chamber ensembles, musical theatre pit bands, and orchestras within the University of Waterloo’s music community.

Elaine Harris

I play clarinet. I was in LJYO for two years. I’m now studying clarinet at the University of Western Ontario. I am planning to become a music teacher. I would like to play in the finale.

Freya Kelly (nee Crawley)

I played with LJYO as a violinist from 2003 – 2009. Playing with the orchestra was a wonderful opportunity for me to grow as a player, becoming concert master in my final year, as well as playing the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2 as a soloist. I am currently living in Ottawa working as a registered nurse at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. I played with the Parkdale United Church Orchestra from 2011 – 2017 and am currently taking a break to spend time with my 7-month old son, Hudson.

Jaak Liivoja-Lorius

I served as a violin coach for LJYO from 2009 to 2018 and also during that time as LJYO Board member for some 5 years. When I retired from the professional music world and running a violin shop in Ottawa, I really had no immediate plans except to, as they say, smell the roses. The opportunity to coach with LJYO became much more fulfilling than that. It, in fact, gave me an opportunity to pass on a lot of what I had learned myself through decades of professional musicianship. And of course, the reverse also happened. Working with the kids became a new and treasured experience for me. I learned as much from them as hopefully they learned from me. As I have said elsewhere, any musical organization that reaches a twenty-year anniversary is doing something right and thus deserves a standing ovation.

Alexandra Foley-Eby

I was a tuba player with LJYO from 2008-2012 and 2014. I joined the orchestra on the suggestion of Neil Hunter (trumpet coach) and also because my friend, Paige Kreps, was playing percussion with the group. I owe many of my friendships to LJYO, including my boyfriend, who was trombonist from 2009-2012. The added structure, socialization, and mental stimulation were all welcomed. The orchestra taught me how to deal with difficult situations, high expectations, and conflicting commitments. While these might not sound overtly positive, they were valuable lessons to carry over into university.

I certainly remember having fun playing certain pieces, like Lord of the Rings, the Sound of Music, and, of course, pretending to be a string bass for anything by Strauss. I also remember hearing amazing solos, meeting wonderful people, and having some pretty fantastic Saturday mornings. LJYO gave me an appreciation of classical music that I did not have previously. 

I ended up falling in love with science and pursuing it academically. Currently I have a BSc. (Hons.) and my MSc., both in biology. I am also applying to professional school, hoping to achieve my DVM. I still own my tuba (“Tinkerbell”) and I go through phases of playing her, alone or with groups.

Jennifer VanLeeuwen

I was a LJYO cello coach/orchestra parent from 2012-2014. My sons, Paul and Oliver Lingertat, played cello and violin, respectively, during those years and have both gone on to study Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. While there, both played with the U of Waterloo Symphony, and were happy to reconnect with LJYO friends like Charly Phillips and Simon Hughes.

What I remember most vividly is the fabulous group of generous and encouraging people involved in the LJYO. The kids flourished and were inspired to give their best because of the healthy culture in the organization. It was with regret that we left LJYO, but I have fortunately been able to carry on with musical pursuits in Peterborough. I continue to play cello in the Peterborough Symphony and occasionally volunteer with the Kawartha Youth Orchestra.

Tiffani Dakers

LJYO was my home for 12 incredible years. I’ve been with LJYO for the 10th anniversary, the 15th anniversary and I am sad to be missing the 20th because I now reside in California. After joining the orchestra, my love for music and playing percussion grew. My favourite part of being involved in a community orchestra was rehearsing for a concert. Playing classical hits with a big support from the entire orchestra and community really is something special.

Being a team player in this orchestra taught me many things from a young age that I still use now. During my membership, I was the principal percussionist, the orchestra leader, and then a playing coach. Moving up, I became responsible for the orchestra as manager while I pursued my diploma in Music Business Management. My role as the manager opened my eyes to a whole new level of the orchestra to me. Learning the organization from behind the scenes as well gave me a new appreciation for community, volunteers, the music directors, the Board and musicians. Now, I take what I learned as a manager and musician to my professional life in the music business industry, and that is as valuable a gift as one can have.

I know that LJYO is the perfect fit for any young musician with lots of room to grow and learn, with an extended family to welcome you!

Lindsay Davison

I was a member of LJYO between 2005 and 2007. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it were not for LJYO. I began playing the flute when I was about 10 years old. After auditioning a few times for the orchestra, Michael suggested I switch to playing the bassoon because the orchestra had too many flute players and no bassoonists. As soon I picked up the instrument, I knew I had found something special. Even though I could only play about five notes on the instrument, I could tell that playing the bassoon was something that I was meant to do with my life, and LJYO helped me to discover my love for orchestral playing. I loved being a part of a team of people who were just as enthusiastic about music. 

 I later moved to Montreal and studied music at McGill University, but I always tried to come back to LJYO concerts to fill in the bassoon section as much as I could. After completing my Bachelor’s degree, I moved to Germany where I completed a Master’s in Orchestral Performance and where I met my husband. 

I’m now happily living in Latvia with my husband (he is a French Horn player). We play together in the National Opera, and frequently travel around the country to play music. It’s really incredible how organizations such as LJYO can help to form and change a person’s life as it has changed mine. It provided me with a community of loving and supporting people whom I will forever admire and look up to, and it helped me in so many ways to develop as a musician and as a person. 

Claudia Vanderheyden

My time in LJYO was a huge learning experience for me, as it was my first time ever playing in an orchestra. I learned very valuable skills of collaboration with others through music playing as well as discussions and relationships, along with self-discipline and the reward that comes with hard work. My musicianship grew tremendously throughout my time with LJYO and definitely contributed to my decision of attending Wilfrid Laurier University for Music Therapy. I still play the violin and have taken up various other instruments, including piano, voice, guitar, flute and ukulele. Currently, I am completing the third year of my Music Therapy undergraduate degree and am planning on completing my Masters and becoming a Registered Psychotherapist.

Roma Klufas

I was in LJYO for 2 years, during the 2016-17 season, and the 2017-18 season. My experience with LJYO was pretty hecking great, as it helped immensely with my playing, and helped me launch my career as a musician. I made tons of friends that I still talk to (which is great considering that people scare me a bit), and I’ve learned many good lessons while playing there. I’m currently in my first year of university, where I’m completing my Honours Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Western Ontario. Obviously, I’m still playing trumpet, and going to Western has made me realize that I still have quite a bit to learn in terms of my technique and sound. I would very much like to play in the concert that day, and would very much enjoy seeing everyone there.

Gillian Crosbie (nee Britton)

I was in LJYO from 2001-2003. What I remember most was the people and the music – I had been in another ensemble for several years and wasn’t really in love with playing anymore. Coming to LJYO gave me a new perspective and challenge. The music was fun and different, and I got to play with some amazing people. Now, I’m a full time music teacher in the DDSB, but I don’t play my violin nearly as often as I should. Luckily, my daughter has taken up the violin, and I’m sure she will want to become a part of LJYO once she’s a bit older, too. Looking forward to this!!

Macey Irving

I was in the orchestra in their 19th season. I played with the second violins and really enjoyed it. I am continuing to take private lessons to further my learning on the violin. I would love to play in the concert this coming May!!

Monique Sinnott

I was a part of LJYO in 2017 and I played the harp. My favourite song we played that year was the Adagio from Spartacus, and it is still one of my favourite songs even though I had to completely rewrite it with enharmonic equivalents. I recently purchased a pedal harp for myself and am now capable of playing more complicated music intended for a concert grand harp in an orchestra. I would be happy to attend the concert on May 5th and play in the finale provided there is a harp part for me.

Erin Puersten

I am interested in participating in the concert on May 5th. I was in LJYO for 5 seasons between 2010-2016. LJYO was the first orchestra I played in, and one of the most memorable moments I have is the first time we all played Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh ride. I loved hearing the full sound of the orchestra all around me, and knowing that I was contributing to this sound was an amazing feeling. The orchestra helped me grow so much as a musician and helped forge many new friendships. Having this opportunity, so close to home, with so many wonderful mentors is a huge part of the reason I am the person and musician that I am today. I’m in my third year of Mechatronics Engineering at McMaster University. I am still playing the violin and have extended my degree to include a music minor. I play in the McMaster Chamber Orchestra (violin) as well as the pit band of the McMaster Engineering Musical (flute and violin).

Joel Baarbe

I was in LJYO from the fall of 2014 to the spring of 2017. I remember Michael giving us the permission to “kill” as cellists! I am currently in Grade 12, and I am still playing the cello. I have discontinued music lessons, but I practice regularly. I should be able to play in the grand finale and participate in the group photo.

Adora Moore

I was in LJYO 2015 – 2018. I remember LJYO as being a welcoming environment where everyone was encouraged to improve their musical skills and to be yourself. I am currently studying music and criminology at Western University, and I am still playing flute and piccolo. I would love to participate in the concert!

Liam Woodward

I first came to LJYO when I was 10 years old. I was so little that I couldn’t see over music stands or play the snare drum correctly, so I had a little blue stool which gave me a foot of extra height. I loved the orchestra and I was always excited on Saturday mornings to go to rehearsal. Year after year, I came back to the orchestra, and eventually outgrew the blue stool. After seven years in the orchestra, I went on to become the orchestra leader and principle percussionist. I’m now pursuing a bachelor of music at Humber College in Toronto, and I could not have made it to where I am now without all the amazing things I learned from Michael, Laurie, and all my coaches throughout the years. I loved every part of being in orchestra, the friends I made, the early morning truck loads for concerts, the things I learned, and most importantly the music I got to make. LJYO is truly a beautiful and amazing thing that I will be forever grateful for being a part of.

Chris Aiello

I was a trombonist with LJYO from 2009 to 2012. After playing in the orchestra I went on to study computer engineering at McMaster University. Music has been an important part of my life since childhood and my years at LJYO allowed my passion for music to flourish. My time with the orchestra allowed me to form lasting friendships, and provided me with a musical challenge I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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