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boyle heights community youth orchestra

Dr. Suzanne Gindin leads the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra. Photo by Jonathan Olivares.


It was standing room only on Saturday night when the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra performed for the very first time at the Breed Street Shul.

The evening began with the lighting of the menorah for the eighth night of Hanukkah by Shul director Sherry Marks and a welcome from president Stephen Sass.

Then it was time for the children. Led by co-founder and artistic director Dr. Suzanne Gindin, the orchestra performed songs in honor of the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons. The songs included “O Hanukkah,” “I Have a Little Dreidel,” “Dona Nobis Pacem” and “Feliz Navidad.”

The singing was followed with instrumental songs featuring the wind section — trumpets, flutes and clarinets — and violins. Highlights included a flute duet of “Good King Wenceslas” by CitlalliI Gaeta and Elizabeth Gomez. The wind instruments played “Ode to Joy,” and the violins played “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

violin girl

The orchestra’s players are between the ages of 6 and 13. Photo by Jonathan Olivares.


Ten-year-old Mayte Castro, a fourth grader at Sheridan Elementary School in Boyle Heights, performed “Silent Night” on the violin along with orchestra co-founder Michael Hudson-Medina. Castro just began playing the instrument this summer.

“She is gifted,” Hudson-Medina said. “She has such potential.”

Gindin and Hudson-Medina started the orchestra, made up of 6- to 13-year-olds, this summer. Hudson-Medina said they were so proud of the children’s performance.

“We pushed them so hard on Friday, at the rehearsal,” he said. “They worked hard. We gave them a lot of information, and they retained it.”

The orchestra practices on Thursday and Friday afternoons at Hollenbeck Middle School. They are currently looking for a more permanent space in Boyle Heights. The program and lessons are free of charge.

For more information or to support the orchestra, call (213) 627-7834.

UPDATE: Breed Street Shul shared a video of the orchestra’s performance of “I Have a Little Dreidel.”

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One Response to “Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra rings in holiday season”

  1. Suzanne Gindin demonstrates true dedication to her craft, her calling and her children. And there are thousands of teachers like her who will simply not give up on the truth that children want to be interested and participate in their worlds. Funding, support, career pathways. It’s time.