Chico Guild Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary and 43 Year History with North State Symphony Young Artist Auditions

art_0509_guild.jpgThe Chico Symphony Guild, founded in 1959, is celebrating its 50th anniversary year. Now called Chico Guild-North State Symphony, its mission has always been to both support the North State Symphony (NSS), and to nurture young talent.

One way the Guild enacts their mission is through their support and production of the Young Artist Auditions (YAA) event held annually in Chico, and open to junior high, high school and college students of the North State.

Held each February at the CSU, Chico Performing Arts Center, the public is always welcome to watch the audition process, from the Guild’s welcoming address to NSS Maestro Kyle Wiley Pickett’s outline of the audition procedure, to enjoying each contestant’s performance of their selected piece (accompanied by a musician of their choice). All instruments and voice are represented.

The YAA has evolved through its 43 year history. In 2001, when the Chico Symphony and the Redding Symphony combined to become the North State Symphony, the YAA winners’ awards increased considerably. At that same point in time, the Redding League stepped up to offer their invaluable help with the YAA University/College Division.

At the auditions, three judges determine a winner in each division, and the winners are accorded the opportunity and privilege of performing a major work of classical music as a soloist with the orchestra.

Pianist Emily LoefflerPianist Emily Loeffler

2008 YAA College Division winner, Humboldt State University.
She will be performing the Finale from Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.

Emily was born in Denver, Colorado to two doctor parents who both hobbied in the production of sound, but harbored no serious musical inclinations. She went to public school and has one sister. She was 20 when she won the audition.

Was there someone initially who inspired you to get into music?
When I came to HSU, I was bored and so emailed the first piano faculty member on the website. The next thing I knew, I was taking lessons with her…and then was a music major. Her name was Deborah Clasquin, and she passed away peacefully last month from pancreatic cancer.

What are you currently immersed in at college?
Going into year five, with a double major in Music (piano performance), and English (creative writing).

What led you to your audition with Young Artists Auditions?
Deborah said, “Go.” And, “Do your best.”

Esoteric thoughts about music as life?
Musical gestures are equally valid as physical gestures. Really, there are three kinds of music: head, which makes you think, heart, which makes you cry, and hip, which makes you dance.

Why do you recommend music to youth, and that they audition?
The reason to audition is not to win, but to get out there…hit the road for the sake of the road and see what other people are playing. Listen to what is being done. Meet the rest of the world.

What are you most looking forward to in performing with the Symphony?
Getting glared at by the first clarinet. Using it as a chance to learn something: about a professional orchestra, about the music, about the motion of people to and from the things they do and have to get done.

Violinist Adriel TaslimViolinist Adriel Taslim

2008 YAA Junior High/High School Division winner, American Christian Academy.
He will be performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, Turkish

Adriel was born in Redding, California and was 17 at the time he won the audition.

Do you come from a musical family? What is your schooling background?
My parents don’t play at all, though my mom can read music. I was 80% homeschooled. I think my mom learned to read music to be able to give my sisters, brother and I exposure to music at a young age; we all play an instrument. Now one sister is studying music therapy at college. Seeing my cousin play inspired me to start learning violin.

I’ve had the honor of studying with some amazing music teachers. Right now I travel weekly to Fairfield to study with Vazen Melikian, who is a professor emeritus of the San Francisco Conservatory. I will be attending Georgia Mercer University-McDuffy Center for Strings in the near future.

How often do you practice? Do you have a favorite musical genre?
I’ve haven’t stopped playing for several years, I practice six days a week unless I’m sick. I have an affinity for, and therefore listen to a lot of orchestral music, so I tend to stay in the classical realm. However, I appreciate alternative rock.

What do you have to say to other youth about the path of music, and about participating in the Young Artist Auditions?
If you are going to do this, music, go all the way, you can’t go halfway. There will be times you’ll want to quit, but keep on going. It’s a lot work, but it pays off in the end. Once you get to a certain level in the world of music, it becomes second nature, and being able to express yourself through music is a beautiful thing.

Get involved with music camps if you have the opportunity. You’ll be inspired. Whether at camps, through auditioning, or watching a concert performance, the experience of seeing how other people do things is invaluable.

The YAA competition is a great experience. I auditioned with YAA in 2007 and won 2nd place. I auditioned again this past year and here I am.

Do you recommend that children attend the performances?
I think the concert will be inspiring to young musicians – knowing that this is what you can be if you keep working at it. Parents should definitely attend with their children for the experience.

What do you look forward to in performing with the Symphony, what do you think you will come away with?
The opportunity to interact with others more musically developed than you are is beyond words at times. It’s not so much about technique, because different instruments require different techniques. It’s more about the inspiration received through being around someone who is passionate about what they are doing. I draw a lot of inspiration from seeing how other people do things, and how they convey emotion through their music.

A lot of musical growth is not something easily described. The emotionality of music is something you are always working on – it is fusion of emotion with music that makes the art beautiful.

In the Community: The Chico Guild – North State Symphony

Since it’s inception in 1959, the Guild has been a significant support to many wonderful North State Symphony fundraisers in Chico, including the Pops Concerts at Chico Fairgrounds, the Mozart Mile fun run/walk at Bidwell Park; Concerts in the Park, Prelude garden parties, and numerous elegant dinners, fashion shows, auctions and musical events featuring orchestra members or young artists. At Guild meetings, childrens string players, students and symphony members are given an opportunity to perform before an audience and to talk about their musical pieces and their instruments.

The Chico Guild is proud of its long history of support for the area’s nationally acclaimed orchestra. During their anniversary year the Guild is both taking time to reminisce about their rich history, and to focus on “setting the tone for the future with trailblazing ideas to capture a new generation of symphony lovers”… and they are enjoying the challenge.

For more information about the history of Chico Guild-North State Symphony or how you can lend a hand, visit: or call Chico Guild YAA Chair Helga Ruge at (530) 345-0744.

The 2008 Young Artist Auditions winners will be performing at North State Symphony’s Season Finale “Music Immortal” in three North State Locations: Chico, May 16, 7:30pm, at CSU, Chico’s Laxson Auditorium; Redding, May 17, 2pm, in at the Cascade Theatre; Red Bluff, May 17, 7:30pm, at the State Theatre (Miss Loeffler will not be performing at the Red Bluff concert). Conductor Kyle Wiley Pickett will give a free pre-concert talk before the Redding and Chico concerts one hour before the concerts begin. Information:; (530) 898-6333.


Writer Lisa Shara makes her home in Mt. Shasta, CA and loves all things musical.

Original Article Appeared in North State Parent magazine, May 2009

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