The Canton Youth Symphony was founded in 1961 as a way to give young musicians the opportunity to participate in a high-quality regional youth orchestra that strives to provide a professional atmosphere for music making and the highest artistic standards. The Canton Youth Symphony is meant to supplement, not replace, school instruction and ensemble participation.
Membership in the Canton Youth Symphonies offers musicians the opportunity to:
• Play with students from a variety of area schools.
• Perform an array of challenging orchestra repertoire.
• Study with Canton Symphony Orchestra musicians through sectionals and/or to play a side-by-side concert with the Canton Symphony Orchestra.
• Grow by providing a progressive orchestra training program: Canton Youth Strings, Canton Youth Symphony, and Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra
Led by Music Director, Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz, the Canton Youth Symphony has grown to include three ensembles and is made up of students from six counties in the Northeast Ohio area. Elementary through high school students occupy the three ensembles of the program. and enjoy the challenging and joyful educational experience that CYS creates.
All ensembles rehearse at the Zimmermann Symphony Center in Canton, Ohio. The Canton Youth Symphony season is split into 3 cycles that end with a public concert.
The Canton Youth Strings rehearses every Monday evening from 5:30-6:30pm and performs beginning and intermediate string repertoire. All beginning and intermediate string players are allowed to participate in CYS Strings if they have basic skills and sight-reading abilities. However, an audition is still required for placement.
The Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra rehearses every Monday evening from 6:00 to 8:30 and performs diverse and challenging pieces from the standard orchestral repertoire.
The Canton Youth Symphony rehearses every Tuesday evening from 6:00 to 8:30. The group begins the year by performing educational arrangements of the standard orchestral repertoire and works its way up to original editions of major works by the end of the year.
In support of school music programs, it is the policy of the Canton Youth Symphonies that members are required to also participate in at least one of their school’s instrumental ensembles. Exceptions are made for home schooled students and students who play an instrument that is not taught at their school. Each musician will be required to have the ensemble director sign a Proof of Ensemble Participation form at the beginning of each season. Extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must be discussed with the Music Director and Manager of Education and Community Engagement.
Matthew Jenkins Jaroszewicz has been with the Canton Symphony Orchestra since 2017. He currently serves as the William P. Blair III Associate Conductor, as well as Music Director of the Canton Youth Symphonies program. He was humbled and honored to be named Music Director Designate of the orchestra this summer. Recent highlights with the Canton Symphony include Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music featuring the Canton Symphony Chorus, Brahms’ Tragic Overture, and Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 1. He led the Canton Youth Symphony Advanced Orchestra in a performance of Sibelius’ 1st Symphony and Still’s Threnody in Memory of Jean Sibelius at this year’s Ohio Music Education Association State Conference in Cleveland, where CYSAO was one of two high school full orchestras in the state invited to perform. He looks forward to leading a Masterworks program of music from or inspired by the Spanish-speaking world with the Canton Symphony this coming March, featuring live photo choreography from Westwater Arts.
He made his Severance Hall debut with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra in November of 2021 with the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, and his Carnegie Hall debut in July 2018, conducting works by Fauré and Zach Gulaboff Davis at Weill Recital Hall. In 2019, he conducted the world premiere of Our Voices: Democracy Revisited by legendary jazz trumpeter and Oscar-nominated film composer Terence Blanchard. He was Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Apotheosis Opera in New York City, where he conducted fully-staged productions of works by Wagner, Puccini, and Strauss.
Matthew holds degrees from Brown University and Mannes College of Music, where he studied under David Hayes. He served as a Julius Rudel Conducting Fellow with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, where he received mentorship from Music Director JoAnn Falletta. He is a native of Cincinnati, where he attended The School for Creative and Performing Arts before graduating from Walnut Hills High School. He swam competitively for the Cincinnati Aquatic Club and continues to train and compete through U.S. Masters Swimming as a member of O*H*I*O Masters Swim Club. He is an active member of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, where he sings in the choir, serves as a co-chair of the church’s LGBTQ+ Ministry, and a member of the Congregational Life Mission Team. He is also an avid skier, cyclist, triathlete, hiker, and devoted baseball and football fan. He lives in Cleveland with his fiancé, Andrew, and their dog, Woodford.
Ralena Mae Bevington has been the Canton Youth Strings instructor since 2017. A native of Canton, Ohio she began playing the violin and taking vocal lessons at the age of seven. Ralena achieved her Bachelor of Music Education Degree (BME) from the University of Mount Union, graduating cum laude. While attending the University of Mount Union, she played the viola in the Alliance Symphony. After graduating from college, she worked for Plain Local Schools for two years as their Orchestra Director. She is currently the Director of Strings for Canton City Schools where she teaches at McKinley HS (Downtown & Main Campus) and the Arts Academy at Summit. Ralena achieved her Master of Arts in Education as an Intervention Specialist, with a reading endorsement, from Malone University.
In 2013, alongside Ms. Betty Smith, Beverly Bevington and S.C. Toe, she became Co-Founder of the 501c3 program En-Rich-Ment. This program gives inner-city children the opportunity to learn any musical instrument at no charge to the family. “In a society where we are connected through technology, music gives us the experience of having human interactions. We are able to have basic human relations and express our feelings through something that we all have in common; it gives us something to relate to. Everyone has a talent – music helps find it. I teach much more than just notes and rhythms on a page. I teach compassion, empathy, basic skills ie: reading/math, and how to work as a team. I teach LIFE through music.”
In Ralena’s short career, she has achieved numerous recognitions including: The Williams Scholarship in Fine Arts, Mu Phi Epsilon Merit Award, The Gerald & Esther Garland Palmer – ‘32 Music Scholarship, Joseph A. & Rhea M. Jeffries Memorial Scholarship, Cecil T. & Marian H. Steward Award, The National Cabinet of Mount Union Women Scholarships, and Top 10 Finalist in the Canton Symphony Music Educator of the Year two years in a row.
Aside from teaching music, Ralena’s is an avid equine enthusiast participating in many events including Ranch Riding and Cutting.
Ashli Snider is in her sophomore year at Walsh University, and is double majoring in Museum Studies and Visual and Performing Arts with a focus on art history. She is a member of the Walsh University Concert Band and Marching Band where she plays flute and piccolo. Ashli has been playing the flute for over 10 years and has participated in multiple ensembles throughout her high school and college music career, including the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony and the Ohio State University-sponsored High School Honors Band.