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Sinfonia Gulf Coast Introduces Sinfonia Youth Orchestra Director Margaret Gordon

Musician/music instructor Margaret Gordon has joined Sinfonia Gulf Coast to lead its Youth Orchestras and coordinate its music education community outreach efforts. 

A native of Fort Walton Beach, Gordon’s passion for music began at Kenwood Elementary School where she began learning the viola. She was in Sinfonia Youth Orchestra while a student at Choctawhatchee High school. She went on to earn her undergraduate degree at the University of West Florida in Music Performance and a master’s degree in Viola Performance from Appalachian State University. She has taught violin viola and piano and ukulele — and recently has taken up the mountain dulcimer. 

“Margaret is an approachable, educated professional who brings energy and hands-on teaching pedagogy experience to her role,” said Sinfonia Gulf Coast music and artistic director Demetrius Fuller. “As a former SYO member herself, she can both relate to students and bring a unique perspective to the job.” 

Gordon, 26, assumed the role in August 2022 previously held by Aaron King Vaughn. “I am so humbled to be able to give back to the organization that gave me my foundations in music. Without the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra, I never would’ve been able to foster the love of music that was in me from childhood,” she said.

Established in 2013, the Sinfonia Youth Orchestra (SYO) program is the only program in the area affiliated with a professional orchestra and is the premier training orchestra in Northwest Florida comprised of student musicians. Members are given opportunities to participate in a variety of ensembles that perform throughout the school year. SYO members have the opportunity to perform alongside Sinfonia and at high-caliber events like Crescendo! and other community events such as The Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Chi Chi Miguel.

“Being affiliated with Sinfonia Gulf Coast means that students receive the highest level instruction available to them outside of their regular school settings. This mentorship is critical to budding musicians as many need guidance into the professional world. Sinfonia is comprised of professionals who have walked this path and who can serve as examples of where the student’s journey will lead them with hard work and dedication,” Gordan said.

The Sinfonia Youth Orchestra welcomes middle school and high school age students who are intermediate to advanced (All-State level) student musicians interested in strings, winds, brass, and percussion. 

Sinfonietta Strings program welcomes all grades 3rd through 8th and is open to beginner string students. 

“SYO provides students an opportunity to experience a part of the world that may otherwise be lost to them,” Gordon explains. “Music in general provides so many benefits to developing children. It can help kids with math skills, increase reading levels, and help them to develop high levels of critical thinking. I like to think that when we teach music, we are actually teaching life skills with music being the vehicle to do so. And besides that, it’s fun.”

SYO members must audition. Selected students pay an annual membership fee. Need-based scholarships are available. Rehearsals are held on Sunday afternoons. 

Senior SYO students are eligible to apply for the Grace Fulcher Memorial Scholarship created in memory and honor of Grace Fulcher, a Niceville High School violinist and SYO member. SYO high school students may earn Bright Futures community service volunteer hours at Sinfonia Gulf Coast and SYO events. All SYO members receive complimentary tickets to each Sinfonia Gulf Coast main season concert. 

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