SUNY Oswego talents to lead expanded Oswego Youth Conservatory

The Oswego Youth Conservatory, a community-based, SUNY Oswego-led music enrichment program for area children, will add “Group Piano for Kids” this year to its “Choir Boot Camp” offering, thanks to the talent and time of Fulton natives Elizabeth and Evangeline Canfield.

Founded and directed by Dr. Robert Auler, an accomplished concert pianist and Oswego music faculty member, the Oswego Youth Conservatory enters its second year starting in early September for 14 weeks, concluding with a gala concert.

Accomplished choral director and vocal coach Dr. Mihoko Tsutsumi will meet with students ages 12 to 18 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 6, for “Choir Boot Camp” in Room 50 of Tyler Hall.

The Canfield sisters, professional pianists who are alumni of SUNY Oswego’s undergraduate music program and recipients of master’s degrees in piano performance from Bowling Green State University, will teach basic skills of musicianship at the piano. “Group Piano for Kids I and II” for students 7 to 10 and 11 to 18 will take place starting Sept. 12 and Sept. 7, respectively, in SUNY Oswego’s Hewitt Union.

“This fall we will be performing with SUNY Oswego’s College Choirs at the final concert, along with professional singers at the opera ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ produced by Oswego Opera, and more than 200 singers at the holiday concert,” said Tsutsumi, who taught at University of Florida before joining SUNY Oswego’s music faculty. “It is definitely a great experience for the students. I hope many students will join us.”

Giving back

Tsutsumi said she had a delightful experience with last year’s inaugural class of choral students. “It’s been a real joy to work with the OYC students,” she said. “They all are enthusiastic. … They care for and respect each other, and I really appreciate that.”

Elizabeth Canfield said, “We are very excited about the opportunity to return to our hometown and give back to the community. In high school, we were connected with one of the piano professors who were instrumental in recruiting us to SUNY Oswego. That was the best decision we could have made. By connecting with the college, a world of opportunities opened up to us, and we would like to provide the same opportunities to kids in our community.”

Her twin sister, Evangeline, said, “I’m so excited to be teaching with the youth conservatory this fall! I remember what it was like to have high-level teaching and mentoring through college as a high schooler, and it has always been a dream of mine to provide those same opportunities for the next generation of learners.”

Supported in part by a grant from the Richard S. Shineman Foundation, the conservatory is administered through the college’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. The outreach project’s vision statement reads, “We envision a community galvanized by music. We envision a community where young people have positive outlets for personal growth, and where young people experience a deep and abiding sense of belonging and personal acceptance. We envision a community where musical involvement, interest and attainment far exceed expectations for a community of our size.”

To learn more or to register for the Oswego Youth Conservatory, contact Pamela Lavallee at 315-245-7087 or


Youthful voices—Mihoko Tsutsumi (center), director of choral activities at SUNY Oswego, conducts the Oswego Youth Conservatory choir in a rehearsal in 2015, its inaugural year. For fall 2016, Oswego alumni Elizabeth and Evangeline Canfield, natives of Fulton, will lead sections of “Group Piano for Kids” as Tsutsumi continues “Choir Boot Camp.”