Schuylkill County's widely acclaimed resident piano quartet, the Gabriel Chamber Ensemble (GCE), celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has announced the formation of a new youth symphony orchestra.

Established under the auspices of the GCE, the Gabriel Youth Orchestra will provide an opportunity for high school students from throughout the region to play in a professionally managed and conducted setting.

"The Gabriel Chamber Ensemble is pleased to offer this exciting opportunity to our area's young musicians," said Marria O'Malley Walsh, Pottsville, GCE board member. "Young area musicians will be invited to participate by the Gabriel or their high school band leaders and music teachers. Walsh emphasized that the orchestra is seeking all types of instruments, especially brass, woodwinds, and strings.

"This new program, she continued, "is important because the GCE also plans to offer instruction in strings for local students, many of whom are interested in the violin, cello, or viola.

"We've reached out to the community," she said, "and the response from parents, music instructors, and band leaders has been tremendous. A youth orchestra is what our residents want and need."

Walsh noted that the organization is also partnering with the Pottsville Area Music Endowment.

Dennis Hardock, Pottsville, endowment board chairman, said his organization "welcomes the initiative to engage and involve our talented student musicians with this program." He noted that "the new organization also expands the horizons of performers and audiences, taking music to a new level for all involved."

Artistic director of the new youth orchestra is John F. Potlunas, Pottsville, former music director of the Schuylkill Youth Symphony Orchestra. Potlunas is band director for Tamaqua Area High School.

The Gabriel Youth Orchestra will present two concerts yearly, one at the holidays and one in spring.

The GCE is currently recruiting members for the Gabriel Youth Orchestra. For more information or to apply, e-mail Agnes Maurer, ensemble executive director, at gce@gabrielensemble.org [1] or telephone (570) 943-2558.

Since it made its debut in 1990, the GCE has presented more than 300 works by master composers, among them Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Dvorak, in hundreds of concerts and recitals throughout the region, and presented school programs to more than 10,000 students.