As the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra figures out how its youth ensembles will function during the new school year, it welcomes two new directors for those groups.
The DSO recently hired Rob Stull as conductor of the Dubuque Symphony Youth Orchestra (DSYO), and Ghyas Zeidieh as conductor of the Youth String Ensemble and Philharmonia. The youth orchestra has about 35 students, from grades 8 to 12, and the lower ensembles are based on years playing, mostly students in grades 5 to 8. Dr. Stull – who earned his doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music – is Director of Bands and Assistant Professor at Clarke University, and replaces Benjamin Firer with the youth orchestra.
Hannah Von Mulert, education director for the Dubuque Symphony, says his energy level is outstanding.
“He seems to have such a passion, such a high energy for education, bringing music into the lives of these students. One of the things that really stood out was his interest in branching out from the classics – so they’re not always going to be playing Bach or playing Beethoven.
“He has experience with a lot of different works that these orchestras would not typically play, so we’re looking forward to having him bring more diversity, I think into the repertoire the students are playing.”
She says Stull is excited about doing multimedia works, and growing the program in new ways. The DSO was surprised it had to fill the other ensemble positions, which were led by husband-and-wife Becca and Andrew Geyssens, who moved to Texas to work for a school district there. Dr. Zeidieh – who has a doctorate from the University of Iowa -- has led many workshops with student orchestras and youth symphonies, including the Quad City Youth Symphony.
“Ghyas has a huge passion working with kids. He is Suzuki certified, and has his own studio where he is teaching very young students, beginner level students. He really seems to have a passion for educating and working with younger children, too. It really shone through that he really cared about kids’ music education, more so than necessarily conducting a higher-level group. He really seems to have a passion for having those younger students being able to grow and learn music.”
Von Mulert says the DSO is working on a schedule for the fall, while waiting for the school district to figure out its schedule.
“We’re kind of at the point we have to be a little innovative and come up with our own ideas and plans for how we’re going to make this work this year, so that’s something we’re still finalizing.”
Normally, the youth ensembles would start auditions and rehearsals in late August, with three concerts during the year.