Thanks to Julia Amaral and Mark Strate, Music in the Mountains (MIM) expands its education programming with a new Youth Orchestra.

Music in the Mountains (MIM) is the largest private provider of music education services to Nevada County students.

NEVADA CITY, CA, November 4, 2015 – Music in the Mountains’ Board of Directors voted unanimously to expand its educational activities by adopting the Nevada County Youth Orchestra as the new MIM Youth Orchestra. Established in 2012 by Richard Stone, the NC Youth Orchestra had reached a level of growth that needed the resources and infrastructure that MIM could provide in order to continue.  MIM Educational Coordinator, Mark Vance, had been in dialogue with Stone regarding MIM’s goal to start a Youth Orchestra and Stone’s desire to see his youth orchestra reach new heights.  “MIM is the perfect home for the NC Youth Orchestra,” says Vance. “All we needed was community support to make that a reality.”

In search of that support, Vance called on 2 of the community’s most passionate members to tell the story. “Richard Stone and Mark Vance were so excited and enthusiastic in telling us about the possibilities for the Youth Orchestra that we got caught up in the energy and before long had decided to underwrite the start-up expenses to hire a conductor and provide other needed infrastructure under the Music in the Mountains umbrella” recounted Julia Amaral and Mark Strate.

A youth orchestra program has been a key goal in the Music in the Mountains’ strategic plan since 2013. MIM Education Committee Co-Chairs Bob Kline and Kent Riffey led the charge in presenting the MIM Youth Orchestra program proposal and budget to the Board. “We are excited to be taking on this project. Our Board unanimously accepted the proposal for a program that has long been on our ‘bucket list’” says Terry Brown, President of the MIM Board of Directors. Bob Kline pointed out that “it (MIM Youth Orchestra) directly reflects MIM’s mission and vision in providing a foundation that fosters future growth of classical music appreciation and development of individual talent.” “This is a big win-win for the kids and the community” touted Riffey.

Currently, students meet once per week as a string orchestra where they are learning to play music as an ensemble. They have an opportunity to learn from listening to each other and are coached by Richard Stone but the group is too big to give the players the individual attention they need. “The demand for a youth orchestra in our community is huge” says Vance.  The next step is to recruit a permanent conductor and team of coaches to lead the group to the next level. MIM’s multi-year plan involves advancing the current students and recruiting more players. By 2017, the group will expand to include wind, brass and percussion and by 2020 MIM will have a 3 tiered program with a beginning string ensemble and a beginning wind ensemble that will feed players into the advanced youth orchestra.

“This is a giant leap forward in enabling the young musicians of our county to both unlock and continue to grow their musical potential” says Riffey. “Julia Amaral and Mark Strate are enabling MIM to get the MIM Youth Orchestra started but it will take support from a lot of different sources to fully fund the program.”  The program will need additional funds to buy instruments, help students with private lessons, and grow the number of young musicians that can participate regardless of their family’s economic situation. “We hope that in addition to our support, more people will step up to the plate and contribute to the advancement of this program,” says Amaral and Strate.

Music in the Mountains (MIM) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and connect people of all ages through extraordinary musical performances, community engagement, and music education. Founded in 1982 by Paul Perry and Terry Brown, the organization’s first mission was to produce a summer festival utilizing the local volunteer choir and a core of professional musicians from orchestras throughout the United States. Today, MIM serves over 10,000 patrons through classical and pops orchestral programming during SummerFest and another 2,000 patrons through Holiday Pops performances in December and SpringFest in March. Beginning with the Young Musicians Competition in 1987, providing scholarship and educational opportunities became an integral part of MIM’s mission. Currently there are 4 programs directly implemented into Nevada County Public Schools. They include, Carnegie Hall Link-up, Take 5 for Music, Music Live, Classics for Kids, and Peers Performing for Peers. In 2014, the unique Young Composers Project which is an annual program that engages teens to embrace their creativity through weekly music composition lessons and performances was featured in a 30-minute PBS documentary film called River Music that has gained national acclaim. MIM also touts its Alliance which is a volunteer group consisting of over 400 extraordinary community members. They support the Mission of MIM through the production of benefit and hospitality events and by providing support services such as ushering, parking, office work and assisting with festival production.


If you would like more information about this topic or to apply for the position of Youth Orchestra Music Director, please call Mark Vance at (530) 265-6124,  email at, or visit