Daisy Newman, Founder
Geechi Taylor, Executive Director
Daisy Newman, the fourth Director of the Young Musicians Program, began her tenure on March 17, 2003. Since her arrival, Director Newman has moved the Young Musicians forward by expanding the mission of the program to include behavioral and academic components. She instituted the Power Triangle: a comprehensive approach to music education. The YMP students must excel in three areas: Music, Academics, and Citizenship. Students study instrumental and vocal music in classical and jazz genres on a year-round basis. All students are on full scholarship, renewed annually, based on student achievement and behavior. The program currently has 90 students with an annual operating budget of $1,380,000. In 2006, the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities awarded the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award to the Young Musicians Program. Resulting in a performance at the White House in 2007. The then First Lady Laura Bush presented the award to Ms. Newman and YMP student performers.
In 2011, Ms. Newman founded the first Youth Orchestra for the program – YMPCYO™: the only choral youth orchestra in the country. The students sing in choral position, first; then, they march to their seats, pick up their instruments and play in orchestral formation. The exceptional gifts of the children along with intense musical training made this possible. The orchestra’s premier received thunderous applause and multiple standing ovations. Since the choral youth orchestra’s debut, the young musicians have won hearts on both sides of the Bay. On August 12, 2012, the chorus sang Barber’s Angus Dei, marched to their orchestral seats and played Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet!
Under Ms. Newman’s leadership, YMP students are presently matriculating in 30 top universities and conservatories in the nation. The list includes Harvard, Yale, Juilliard, UC Berkeley, Brown, Stanford, Columbia, Williams, Oberlin, UC Davis, UC San Diego, University of Michigan School of Music and Manhattan School of Music. She has parlayed her many years of experience as a professional opera singer into a contact network of world-class artists who regularly mentor and teach her students. Ms. Newman also serves as Director of Development for the program.
Before assuming this position, Ms. Newman was Director of Education for Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) for eight years. In that capacity, she designed and implemented a range of programs serving both inner city and suburban youth that included a school partnership program involving eight school districts; the DSO Summer Institute, an orchestral training program; Sinfonia, a training orchestra; the Jazz Youth Initiative, linking young musicians with legendary jazz masters; a partnership the Detroit School for the Performing Arts and the Civic Jazz Orchestra, and DSO’s first big band for middle and high school students. She has also administered DSO’s Civic Orchestra for youth, educational concerts for students, a national fellowship program for young orchestral musicians, a residency that provided musical career training for graduate students and the Unisys African American Composers Program for visiting composers. Before her Detroit tenure, Ms. Newman worked for the New York Philharmonic as assistant to the Director of Education and assistant to the Chief Financial Officer.
A highly regarded musician, Ms. Newman enjoyed an international career as a soprano soloist in opera, oratorio, and recitals, and worked closely with such noted musical figures as Leonard Bernstein, Robert Shaw, Erich Kunzel, James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Rudolph Serkin, Music Hall in New York City. She sang the role of Bess in five different productions during her career. However, her most performed role was Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly. She also toured England, Germany and Russia with Leonard Bernstein as soprano soloist for his 70th Birthday Tour, which was filmed by BBC. Seiji Ozawa, conductor of the Boston Symphony awarded Ms. Newman “Most Outstanding Vocal Soloist” at Tanglewood Music Festival. She also received keys to several American and European cities, including Bournemouth, England, given to her by the Lord Mayor honoring her outstanding vocal performances. Early in her professional career, she taught music in the public schools in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Newman earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Cleveland State University and received additional training at Oberlin Music Conservatory, Oglebay Opera Institute, Tanglewood Festival and the Marlboro Music Festival, Mstislav Rostropovich and Boris Goldovsky. Ms. Newman’s production of Porgy and Bess was nominated for a Tony Award following a three-month run at Radio City.
Ms. Newman brings a wealth of musical and administrative experience to her position at Berkeley. When asked to state her primary goal for YMP, she responded, “I hope to transform each student’s enormous potential into stunning achievement.”
Geechi Taylor, premiere trumpeter, instructor, and educator, commands respect from his peers in all of his areas of concentration. He is known mostly for his work as a sideman for top bands playing music that ranges from Jazz to Hip-Hop. Playing music with meaning and purpose has provided Geechi the opportunity to travel the world helping to spread positive messages through every song.
Geechi was born in Chicago, Illinois, Jan 6th, 1978 and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Finding his way in to music at the age of 13 he was selected to participate in various music camps. After being accepted into the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, where he received his most extensive training, Geechi was accepted on a full tuition scholarship to the New England Conservatory. After completing his degree, Geechi played in groups on both coast, preferring the warmth to the cold he settled back in the Bay Area. Performing on shows with musical greats, Patrice Rushen, Ndugu Chancler, Rodney Whitaker, and Herlin Riley. Touring with Lauren Hill, Dr. Anthony Browns Asian American Orchestra, Blues Great Jackie Payne and many others.
The San Francisco Examiner “says that Geechi “Is clearly well trained with a rich musical base, … saturated with the history of African American culture”. Teaching Jazz combo’s and Big Band through the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra is one of his many talents and strengths. Teaching has allowed Geechi to pass on the tradition of the Blues and “Swing’n” to bay area youth. His students that have graduated from the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra have been accepted on full scholarship to Julliard, Manhattan School of Music, The New School and Berkeley College of Music.