NPR show to feature York Symphony Orchestra

Junior Gonzalez
  • The York Symphony Orchestra will be featured on NPR's "From the Top" on April 15.
  • The show will bring musical prodigies from around the country to showcase young talent.
  • A professional violinist from Seven Valleys will return from Austria to perform at the event.

Ever wanted to see an NPR radio program live? You might get your chance in just a few weeks at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

The York Symphony Orchestra will be featured on the National Public Radio music showcase program "From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley" on Saturday, April 15.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Lawrence Golan, music director and conductor of the orchestra.

“York Symphony Orchestra has been making tremendous strides over the past few years,” including regularly sold-out shows at the Strand, he noted.

Struggles and resurgence: Golan said while the orchestra has had success in the area, there’s been an absence of recognition elsewhere.

“Nobody knows us outside of York,” he said.

However, Golan said, the NPR appearance gives the orchestra the “opportunity to have a nationwide audience see what we have to offer.”

Golan said the orchestra, as with many in the past decade, had struggles.

“York was no exception,” he said. “In fact, I would say York was struggling more than average.”

Golan said he was told back when he interviewed for his position four years ago that the orchestra performed to an average of 400 people in a venue with a capacity of 1,200.

“They were playing to a two-thirds empty hall,” Golan noted.

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Industrywide, there has been a challenge in attracting loyal supporters and patrons, he said.

“An orchestra is a nonprofit,” Golan said. “Only 20 percent (of the orchestra’s cost) is covered through ticket sales.” The remainder comes from sponsorships and donations.

In recent years, however, he noted the orchestra has had a resurgence in healthy patronage and sold-out shows.

“We’re very happy,” said Golan, who is finishing his third season as music director of the orchestra.

Coming home: Seven Valleys native Ben E. Detrick, a former member of the York Symphony Orchestra, is now a professional violinist living in Vienna, Austria. He will return to York for a solo performance of Bartók's "Romanian Folk Dances" with O'Reilly at the piano  during the event. He previously performed on the program back in 2002, when he was a freshman at Dallastown Area High School.

His mother, Venona Detrick, said as soon as Ben Detrick heard "From the Top" was interested in featuring the York orchestra, he started making phone calls.

“He really wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Ben Detrick, now a middle-school and high-school director at the International School of Vienna, said he is looking forward to his solo performance with O’Riley.

“I’m very excited to be back,” he said. “It’s going to be special.”

Ben Detrick, now 30, looked back at his 2002 performance of Dvořák's "American Quartet" on "From the Top" at Jordan Hall in the New England Conservatory in Boston.

“Fifteen years, halfway through life,” he said. “It’s quite the circle."

Ben Detrick said his four years with the York Symphony Orchestra were challenging but ultimately helpful for his career.

“I was thrown in the deep end and expected to swim,” he said.

At 15, he was one of the youngest members to ever join the symphony, and he said he had to prove himself to stay in.

Ultimately, he found the experience empowering.

“That experience really shaped so much and (made me) feel comfortable in my own skin,” he said.

Venona Detrick, a retired Dallastown teacher, has been a violinist with the York Symphony Orchestra for more than 28 years and has gone on to raise a musical family.

Along with Ben, her older sons Chris and Matthew played the piano and violin, respectively, while growing up, and all have been members of the York Symphony Orchestra at some point.

Venona Detrick said she is grateful to have raised her children in the area.

“Growing up, our boys had many musical opportunities by the York music community, including the symphony,” she said. “We’re very grateful to the York community for what they have offered us.”

‘Inspiration’: Young musicians from around the country will perform alongside the York Symphony Orchestra at the Strand, according to Golan.

“The main attraction of 'From the Top' is to bring young outstanding musicians,” he said.

Golan noted part of the show’s mission is to inspire other young people to pick up a passion.

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“Even if somebody isn't inspired to pick up a violin or (play) piano, it can inspire one to reach new heights in whatever they wish to do in life,” Golan said.

He said his initial inspiration to pursue music wasn’t watching something musically related.

“One of my major inspirations as a kid was the movie 'Rocky,'” he said. “I’ve never been in a fight in my life, but it just inspired me with the work ethic. It inspired me to work a lot harder in what I do.”

The York Symphony Orchestra live performance to be aired on NPR’s "From The Top with Host Christopher O’Riley" will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 15, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St.

Single tickets are $29 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased by online at or by phone at 717-846-1111.