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Strike up the band: Las Cruces Youth Orchestra is ready to relaunch


The Las Cruces Youth Orchestra (LCYO) is coming back stronger than ever after a pandemic-enforced break, LCYO director and founder Simon Gollo said.

“We are ready to come back,” he said. “This is really exciting.”

The orchestra formed in September 2019 and continued with lessons, rehearsals and a concert performance until Covid-19 forced it to shut down in early 2020.

With more than 40 middle- and high-school students participating, “We had a very successful first semester,” said Gollo, who is a violin professor in the New Mexico State University Department of Music.

Gollo also is conductor of the NMSU Philharmonic Orchestra, a member of La Catrina String Quartet and a guest concertmaster of the Chamber Orchestra of San Antonio. He is a recording artist for the international recording label IBS Classical.

Gollo spent that downtime improving his conducting skills and working with others at NMSU and in the community to improve the youth orchestra, he said.

Gollo said LCYO rehearsals and lessons will resume Sept. 4, after Las Cruces Public Schools has begun its fall 2021 semester and parents and students are confident of participants’ health and safety.

“The experience is to be together,” said Gollo, a native of Venezuela who came to Las Cruces and NMSU five years ago. The youth orchestra, he said, is “a new concept in musical education.”

Reviving LCYO is important not only for participating students, but also for the city and the region, Gollo said.

“We will find agreement behind a music stand,” he said. “We have something to build together in Las Cruces.” 

And, if even one young person who participates in the orchestra has his or her mind changed about society, education and music, “I will feel I’ve done something very good in my life,” Gollo said.

Gollo is hopeful the community will support the orchestra by attending upcoming concerts and also by donating musical instruments for its students and providing financial support for scholarships and additional programming to benefit LCYO students.

“I want to live in a city where we have great musical events and I want to be a part of that development,” Gollo said. “If we want to be a great city, we need to have great ideas and support those ideas.”

Gollo said a youth choir is also part of his vision for the future, along with a guitar orchestra.

“I am asking people in our community to support us,” Gollo said. “It is a good thing for our kids.”

Gollo, 41, has performed and conducted in 27 counties around the world and was at one time the youngest orchestra director in Latin America. He left Venezuela for the first time at age 11 and studied in Europe for 15 years.

“I have a European brain, a Hispanic heart and an American life,” Gollo said.

For Gollo’s full biography, visit music.nmsu.edu/facultydirectory/simn-gollo.html and simongollo.com.

Contact Gollo at 575-646-4733 and lascrucesyouthorchestra@gmail.com. Visit lascrucesyouthorchestras.com.