HYSO or the Hamilton Youth Steel Orchestra is a programme established "to provide local youth with the opportunity for positive group interaction, music expression and music literary."
Why a steel pan orchestra?
HYSO is offered for the consideration of local youth in search of positive group affiliation and interaction. The founders recognized that like all people, youth have a basic need to belong to a larger entity, a collective.
Music was chosen as the core activity, because of its universality and its power to bridge gaps and promote inclusivity.
In addition, numerous studies conducted by the National Association for Music Education, have found that a well-structured music program is extremely beneficial academically, socially and emotionally to the participants.
As a non-traditional instrument, the steelpan offers an element of "cool". And, "cool" is essential in attracting the target population.
When did HYSO come to be?
The program was launched in May 2004 from a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Who are our members?
We currently boast of a core group of 25 dedicated players, 10 of whom have been with the orchestra since its inception. They hail from the greater Hamilton and Burlington areas, and one dedicated player comes from afar away as Brampton. Our players range from ages 5 years to 20 years old and reflect the region's diversity.
How is the program managed?
The program is co-managed by its founders Cathy Ferreira and Karen Nelson.
Cathy and Karen are from the "… what can I do from my community school of thought". They also share a desire to contribute to the social development and wellbeing of all children.
Cathy studied music and the steelpan while in high school back in her native Trinidad. She draws on these musical skills as one of HYSO's coaches and instructors. Cathy's Social Work background is useful in the supervision of players with diverse abilities.
Karen has a profound appreciation for the role that the arts and music play in the social and intellectual development of children. She employs her organizational and accounting skills to manage the orchestra's business and financial affairs.