Gifford Youth Orchestra shines at note-perfect gala

Casey Lunceford and Rev. Dr. Crystal Bujol. PHOTO BY JOSHUA KODIS

The Gifford Youth Orchestra celebrated a harmonious evening during its annual gala at the Quail Valley River Club. The event hit just the right notes, including performances by GYO vocal instructor Muffy Charles, the Gifford Youth Orchestra First String Ensemble, and assorted pianists and vocalists, all clearly demonstrating that the nonprofit has expanded its repertoire well beyond strings.

“Tonight, you’ll have a little bit of a taste of all the different disciplines that we have in the music program through the Gifford Youth Orchestra,” said Casey Lunceford, GYO executive director.

The Gifford Youth Orchestra was founded in 2003 by Rev. Dr. Crystal Bujol after a friend told her that the children of their community were being left behind, and then challenged her by asking, “What are you going to do about that?”

The evening was a symphony of hope for a brighter tomorrow as music enthusiasts and supporters of arts education gathered to celebrate the transformative power of music. Guests embraced the mission of the nonprofit to provide accessible music education to underserved youth in all areas of cultural and performing arts, including music, drama, dance and vocal arts.

“During this year, our organization has accomplished much,” said Jane Burton, GYO board president.

She commented that the board has an updated three-year strategic plan, is currently developing new and innovative programming options, earned a renewal of its Guide Star Platinum status, and are finalizing a site plan for the construction of a permanent facility on 45th Street in Gifford.

“Our capital campaign is on its way. In the coming months, you will hear much about this exciting capital campaign effort to fulfill our visions for the future,” said Burton.

“With your continued support, we will be able to reach, engage, and serve even more numbers of student musicians, allowing them access to more music, experience more harmony, and develop a more optimistic environment that will lay the foundation for their future successes.”

This year’s gala featured keynote speaker John Southall, Ph.D., chair of the performing and visual arts department at Indian River State College.

Southall emphasized the importance of music education in empowering young minds and nurturing creativity. He also spoke of the transformative power of music, its ability to transcend boundaries, and its capacity to uplift communities.

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Photos by Joshua Kodis

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