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Richmond Delta orchestra won first national gold standard at MusicFest Canada with its youngest members

5 to 10 years old kids achieved the highest level on the national stage. “Hard work always pays,” as they believe.

Richmond Delta Youth Orchestra (RDYO) Junior Strings took home Gold at the 1st National Gold Standard at MusicFest Canada as the youngest string group that has ever joined the competition.

RDYO, operated by the B.C. Youth Music Society, has been providing a professional orchestral preparation program for young musicians since 1971. Its Junior Strings Program is the entry-level group into their orchestra system, with players between 5-10 years old.

“Our youngest members are only five-year-old,” said Bo Peng, Junior Strings conductor. “It's really exciting that they entered the national competition and reached a level of achievement beyond their age.”

While other kids were enjoying their spring break, Peng said his students were recording their submissions for MusicFest Canada. Even during the COVID lockdowns, the young musicians attended online sessions and kept practicing. Their dedication and hard work are the key factors that lead to this success, Peng added.

“Kids felt unbelievable when I told them the result,” said Peng. “But I believe hard work always pays.”

The right training method also matters, Peng said. RDYO offers a type of musical instruction that is not commonly available for children and youth - instruction and performance opportunities in an ensemble setting.

“(Playing in an ensemble setting) is almost like multitasking. You have to play the song that’s different from what you hear,” said Peng. He believes it’s an important skill to build at the beginner level, once kids have learned to play their parts well.

In addition to the team winning Gold at the national competition, Peng, as the conductor, received the National Arts Centre Outstanding Music Director Award and music director, Stephen Robb, was awarded for the second time for his recording and editing.