NextGen Youth Ensembles

The Region of Waterloo is an arts hub, and home to many outstanding professional musicians, dedicated music teachers and thriving community bands and orchestras for all ages. The Laurier Academy of Music and Arts is dedicated to supporting those artists and ensembles alongside music education programs, both in our schools and the broader community.

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The NextGen Youth Orchestra's musical focus differs from that of a traditional youth orchestra and is designed to supplement existing community programs by providing youth with a different orchestral context for musical exploration across a wide range of genres and cultures. This includes pop and rock, hip hop, country, film and video game music, and repertoire by underrepresented composers, including members of the BIPOC music community.

The goal of NextGen is to be inclusive, forward-leaning, multicultural, and genre-busting with the aim of developing the next generation of artists and supporting the diverse needs of music education programs in our region. Welcome to the NextGen Youth Orchestra.

We are pleased to welcome Shawn Bennett and Amely Zhou as the co-conductors (classical and commercial, respectively) for the NextGen Youth Orchestra. We are pleased to welcome Kirk Kiernander as the conductor for the Junior Hawks Beginning Band.

Message from LAMA's Director

The indescribable joy that accompanies learning, musical development, and the opportunity to share one's efforts in a performance alongside peers is incredibly unique. This collaborative process creates an overwhelming sense of community, belonging, and connection that stays with a young artist forever. I am excited to see this opportunity available for the musicians in our community who desire to learn, arrange, and perform music that they listen to and experience every day.

Rebekah Jordan-Miller

NextGen Youth Orchestra

The NGYO moves beyond the traditional Western music experience by embracing concert programming that fuses commercial rock and pop music, broadway, country, video game music, film scores, traditional orchestral pieces, as well as repertoire from underrepresented circles, including the BIPOC music community. 

This ensemble will expand the boundaries of a conventional youth orchestra program by nurturing musical excellence and fostering personal and communal growth through leadership opportunities, collaborative learning, and peer-to-peer coaching and mentoring.  

This ensemble is for all instrumentalists ages 13-19 (strings, winds, brass, percussion, electric and bass guitar, keyboard/synth, etc.). 

  • Ages: 13-19
  • Rehearsal times: Mondays from 7 - 9 p.m. (Faculty of Music, 75 University Ave. W)
  • Audition fee (virtual and in-person): $35
  • Tuition once accepted: $275 ($240 for students registered with LAMA)
  • Performance date: Saturday, Dec. 7 (Theatre Auditorium, Wilfrid Laurier University)

“It’s time to reimagine youth orchestras to be more inclusive, forward-leaning, multi-cultural, and genre-busting. We are excited to launch ‘NextGen’ for all students!”

Cynthia Johnston Turner, Dean of the Faculty of Music, Wilfrid Laurier University

NextGen Junior Hawks Beginning Band

Historically, instrumental music education was a key component of the elementary school curriculum.  However, ongoing funding cuts and the residual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have significantly impacted this generation of elementary school instrumental music education. The NextGen Junior Hawk Beginning Band introduces students between ages 8 to 12 to the formative experience of playing music with their peers before being introduced to their school band in grade 7. The goal of NextGen is to empower young artists and allow them to act as leaders in their music classrooms.  

Each instrumental group (flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, etc.) will meet bi-weekly with a section coordinator for 75 minutes and then come together as a concert band on alternating weeks for a 75-minute rehearsal.  Rehearsals are scheduled for Wednesdays from 6:15 - 7:30 p.m. in room M3018 in the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University. The first rehearsal will be Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2024.

We are pleased to welcome Kirk Kiernander as the conductor for the NextGen Junior Hawks Beginning Band. 

  • Ages: 8-12
  • Rehearsal times: TBD (Faculty of Music, 75 University Ave. W)
  • Tuition once accepted: $225 ($200 for students registered with LAMA)
  • Performance date: Saturday, Dec. 7 (Theatre Auditorium, Wilfrid Laurier University)