PS Youth Training Orchestra provides new approach to music education

PSYTO students perform at the Palm Springs Gala.

Nunzio Sisto will gladly tell you about how his nonprofit, Palm Springs Youth Training Orchestra (PSYTO), is inspired by his alma mater, the Juilliard School Pre-College. Or how his program is the first new approach to music education in more than 30 years. But the real story is about how his organization is striving to play a valuable role in the Palm Springs economy.

“We all agree that music education is necessary,” Sisto says. “However, my goal was to take a holistic view of music education, to overcome the obstacles leading to the decline — and extinction, in some cases — of music education in public school, to address the resources required and analyze the value created.”

This helps explain why PSYTO does not play seated concerts in theaters but instead its entire concert season consists of partnering at events. After all, he reasons, why raise thousands of dollars to train students and create a valuable product — live symphonic music — only to hide it away in a concert hall for a hundred or so family and friends? “Think of how much more benefit is created if a concert contributes to a local event, such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, aids a local fundraiser or enhances the local Halloween festival?

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“If we are asking our community to support us with donations, shouldn’t we return the same or more value to the local economy?” Sisto asks. “This is a recipe for a youth training orchestra in every city — a sustainable, productive method.”

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