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CKYO History

For Howard Pence, a Lexington area music teacher, the dream began in 1947 with 14 local high school string players. Pence was hoping to provide quality learning and performance opportunities for talented young musicians and, in turn, to bring cultural enrichment to audiences throughout the state and country. With the help of Thornton Scott, Chester Travelstead and eleven other dedicated citizens, Howard Pence realized his dream as his 14 string players grew to 49 players and a full Youth Symphony Orchestra in 1949. By following his dream, Pence created one of the oldest, independently chartered youth orchestras in the United States.

With each passing decade this dream has continued to flourish and grow, as the Youth Music Society of Central Kentucky became the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras, today consisting of over 400 young people participating in six orchestras and 2 community programs. For CKYO, the many young musicians who have been its members and the community who has steadfastly supported it for the last seven decades represent a journey of incredible experiences and spectacular achievements.

CKYO Milestones 

1953 Performance, American String Teachers Association conference, Cincinnati, Ohio

1953 Performance, American String Teachers Association conference, Cincinnati, Ohio

1958 Performance, Silver Anniversary conference, Violin and Cello Teachers’ Guild, Carnegie Hall

1968 Performance, State Department Concert Series, Washington, D.C.

1972 Performance, Mid East Instrumental Music Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1993 Performance, Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic, Chicago, Illinois

1999 Performance Tour, 11 days in Paris, Brugge, Dunkerque, and London

2005 Central Europe Tour

2013 CKYO founds  MusicWorks

1957 Exhibits and recordings sent to represent U.S. youth at Brussels World Fair 

1963 Performance, Youth Concerts for Young People, White House Lawn

1970 Performance, Memorial Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia

1979 Performance Tour, three weeks throughout the Soviet Union and Romania

1996 Performance, Kentucky Music Educators Association Conference, Louisville, Kentucky

2008 Spain/Portugal 


2002 Italy Tour, Rome, Lucca, Teatro Verdi, Cortona

1947 the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras is founded.
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