2024 Tour Program

GTCYS 2024 Symphony Tour Program

Tragic Overture, Op. 81    Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)

Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite    Aaron Copland (1900 – 1990)
Introduction: The Open Prairie
Street in a Frontier Town
Mexican Dance and Finale
Prairie Night (Card Game at Night)
Gun Battle
Celebration (After Billy’s Capture)
Billy’s Death
The Open Prairie Again


Blumine    Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)

Performed without pause

Global Warming    Michael Abels (b. 1962)

The Firebird: Suite (1919 version)    Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)
The Firebird and its Dance
Variation of the Firebird
Dance of the Princesses
Infernal Dance of King Kashchei

En français:

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Ouverture Tragique, Op. 81
[13 min]

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Suite de Billy the Kid
I. Introduction: la vaste prairie]
II. Rue dans une frontière
III. Dance mexicaine et Finale
IV. Nuit dans la prairie: jeu de cartes
V. Bataille au revolver
VI. La Mort de Billy
VII. Retour à la vaste prairie
[22 min]

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Extrait de la version originale de la Première Symphonie, en ré majuer, «Titan»
[8 min]

Michael Abels (Né en 1962)
Global Warming
[8 min]

Igor Stravinksy (1882-1971)
Introduction -L’Oiseau de feu et sa danse – Variation de I’Oiseau de feu – Ronde des princesses (Khorovode) – Danse infernale du roi Kastcheï – Berceuse – Final
[23 min]


Now in its 52nd season, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS, pronounced git-seez) opens doors to music and provides a pathway for students of all ages, backgrounds, and musical levels. Committed to both excellence and access, our educational programs break down barriers, inspiring students to excel musically and build lifelong skills which serve them in school and beyond.

As one of the premier youth arts programs in the state of Minnesota, GTCYS serves more than 1,300 students ages 7-18 through our Harmony strings instruction program, Launch Lessons, Pathway Musicians program, 10 (soon to be 11) school-year orchestras, and summer camps. Rather than turning students away, GTCYS continually expands its programming to meet growing interest and community needs. GTCYS’ equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives ramped up in 2016, have created strong results, and remain a top priority. To increase access and address socio-economic barriers, GTCYS provides more than $230,000 in need-based scholarships for tuition and private lessons.

GTCYS students learn the importance of community engagement and understand that music is most powerful and life-changing when it is shared. Students share their talents and bring live music to diverse audiences at 25 free orchestra concerts at Twin Cities schools, senior centers, and community locations, and ticketed concerts at Orchestra Hall and Ted Mann Concert Hall. Many are livestreamed for free viewing. In total, GTCYS engages more than 17,000 children and adults each year through our educational activities and concerts, plus 26,000 digital audience members.

GTCYS celebrated its 50th Anniversary Season in 2021-22 and has served more than 16,000 students in its history. Alumni include leaders in every field who use the lifelong values of teamwork, discipline, and community engagement developed during their GTCYS experience. Learn more at gtcys.org.

Comprising the region’s finest high school musicians, Symphony is the flagship ensemble of GTCYS’ 10 (soon to be 11) school-year orchestras. Under the leadership of Artistic Director and conductor Mark Russell Smith, the orchestra rehearses each week at Orchestra Hall and performs 7 concerts a year, including four at Orchestra Hall plus its own three-concert series at the University of Minnesota’s Ted Mann Concert Hall. Symphony performs professional repertoire at an impressive level, with recent repertoire including Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy, Copland’s Billy the Kid Suite, and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Season highlights include a side-by-side rehearsal with Minnesota Orchestra and a June 2024 tour to Southern France and Barcelona where the orchestra will perform at the famed Palau de la Música after a historic 2022 tour to Sicily. The group’s impressive artistic quality, commissioned works, and prestigious touring history set this ensemble apart from other youth orchestras.

Mark Russell Smith, Artistic Director & Symphony Conductor
Whether conducting contemporary masterpieces or bringing fresh insights to the symphonies of Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms, Mr. Smith demonstrates consummate musicianship and enthusiastic commitment to the art of music-making – qualities that have endeared him to audiences and musicians alike. He joined GTCYS as Artistic Director in 2012 with nearly 30 years of experience conducting and teaching. Under his leadership, GTCYS has experienced heightened artistic success, student engagement, and a mentor project with the University of Minnesota. Mr. Smith also holds positions as Artistic Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Minnesota (since 2007) and Music Director and Conductor of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (since 2008). Previous positions include Director of New Music Projects for The SPCO and Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra.

In the winter and spring of 2012, Mr. Smith was the instigating artistic force behind the University of Minnesota School of Music’s Britten Peace Project, which combined musical and historical study and community engagement, culminating in critically acclaimed performances of Britten’s War Requiem in Europe and America, collaborating with German and American music students, professional musicians and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. As a guest conductor, Mr. Smith enjoys a burgeoning international reputation that has brought him engagements and re-engagements with prestigious American orchestras, including the St. Louis Symphony, the Houston Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. A champion of the music of our time, Mr. Smith led The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Engine 408 series, working closely with living composers and adding his unique perspective to enhance the orchestra’s great tradition of fostering new works. He has collaborated with YoYo Ma and members of the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota in Hún Qiáo (Bridge of Souls), a concert of remembrance and reconciliation featuring world premieres by Korean, Japanese, Chinese and American composers.

Mr. Smith grew up in a musical family in Phoenix, Arizona where he began the serious study of conducting while still in his teens. He is a graduate in cello performance of the Juilliard School, where he studied with Claus Adam, and of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied conducting with Max Rudolf and Otto-Werner Mueller. Mr. Smith resides in Minneapolis, where his wife, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, is a horn player with the Minnesota Orchestra. They have two sons, Alexander and Noah. More at www.markrussellsmith.net

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