/ Federico Cortese – Celebrating 20 Years with BYSO!

Federico Cortese, Music Director of BYSO
Photo Credit: Michael J. Lutch

This season we celebrate Federico Cortese and his 20th anniversary as Music Director of the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras. Fed’s visionary leadership and his sincere care for our young musicians and the future of BYSO has led our organization to a new level of excellence that was unimaginable 20 years ago.

We asked current students in BYSO's most advanced orchestra, Boston Youth Symphony: "How has Fed made an impact on you and what role does he play in your life? What is it about Fed that makes you continue to be a part of BYS?" Here are a few of the answers we received:

"Throughout the past two years and going into my third and final year in BYSO and in BYS, my favorite/most memorable moment had to have been after my first BYSO “last concert” of the 60th season. I was crying and being an emotional wreck because so many of my friends (aka the majority of the viola section) we’re leaving. As Fed walked past me he said: 'Why are you crying? I can’t/won’t accept your crying until it is your final year.' (All in a very kind voice) This moment made a deep impression on me and I can understand that living in the moment and enjoying the music that the entire orchestra made with Fed was the most influential part of my life. I strive to bring music in the world and even though it is my third and final year in BYS(O) I will forever be indebted to Fed for helping me discover the true meaning of music and the way I want to spend the rest of my life: being a part of an orchestra family and touching others as music has touched me."

"My first interactions with him were in 2016, I just said hi to him a few times when I saw him at camp. He seemed like a pretty chill guy, which he is. He's such a force and has this aura about him. I've never seen anyone who was as sensitive to the slightest phrasing issues, or who would literally scream and go crazy from hearing us play music incorrectly. The one thing that I really appreciate about him isn't that he's a great musician (although I do appreciate that) -- it's that he cares a lot and pushes himself -- probably too hard -- to make our performances great -- and he acknowledges his mistakes/flaws and apologizes. I just feel the need to thank him."

"Playing with BYS is one of the things I look forward to every week. Thank you to everyone for the great experiences, can’t wait to make more memories!"

Maestro Cortese's dedication to the musical excellence and personal growth of our students has been the impetus for many new initiatives including:
-Increased the number of students in the program by 100%
-Created BYSO’s exceptional opera program
-Established a formal partnership with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in 2012 – “BYSO/BSO Partnering for the Future,” featuring the BSO Family Concert Series and the bi-annual opera productions for children and families that has brought classical music to 65,000 new audience members
-Created BYSO On Parade, a bi-annual concert featuring all BYSO ensembles and students
-Led 8 successful international tours
-Created unprecedented growth in BYSO’s Intensive Community Program and its presence in the Boston Public Schools
-Developed several new ensembles, including six chamber orchestras, the Preparatory Winds (PW) and the Petit Ensemble (PE)

The students had a great time celebrating Fed and his 20th anniversary as Music Director of BYSO at a rehearsal at the beginning of the season! We are tremendously grateful to Fed for bringing beauty into the lives of our children and for everything he’s done and continues to do for BYSO, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate him throughout the season. Here are some photos from the festivities!

Photo credit: Simonida Thurber and Erin Keegan Ianni