York Junior Symphony Orchestra concertmistress Kristen Zak is a seventh-grader at Southern Middle School. (Randy Flaum) MORE PHOTOS
York Junior Symphony Orchestra concertmistress Kristen Zak is a seventh-grader at Southern Middle School. (Randy Flaum)
MORE PHOTOS
Kristen Zak fell in love with the violin when she was in third grade, after listening to a musician play the instrument.

From that moment on, the Southern Middle School seventh-grader has been interested in music. So much so that she is now the concert mistress for the York Junior Symphony Orchestra (YJSO).

YJSO, founded in 1967, is made up with students from fifth to eighth grades. They believe they're the only full symphonic orchestra of this age between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to play at a level 4 - or a high school level orchestra, according to Kim Graby, YJSO board president.

The symphony's season wraps up with a May 7 competition at Lower Dauphin High School and a June 19 performance at Toyota Arena. Local school band and orchestra leaders as well as private instructors recommend students for August auditions. But with York County school districts talking budget cuts, Graby is concerned the cuts might affect the symphony because the schools are YJSO's feeder programs. School programs, Graby says, are "a low-cost way for parents to see if their child is interested in music."

If you take music programs out of the school system, "you go back to an era when only the wealthy could afford to give their children private instrumental lessons."

To learn more, go to www.yjso.org. Any donations to the group may be sent to YJSO; 50 N. George St; York, PA. 17401.