(WSVN) - The South Florida Youth Symphony is on a mission to train the next generation of musicians. 7’s Kevin Ozebek puts them in tonight’s 7 Spotlight.

You never know where they’ll be playing. You might hear them perform “Symphonie Fantastique” at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables, or selections from “A Chorus Line” at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables.

But wherever they play, the South Florida Youth Symphony dazzles concertgoers.

Many of the musicians started in one of the practice rooms at Miami Dade College North Campus. It has been the orchestra’s home for the last 27 years.

Alejandro Mendez, orchestra member: “I love it. Everything that the symphony has given me has made me a better musician, has helped me mature more through music.”

Led by Marjorie Gould Hahn, the Youth Symphony was founded by her stepfather, Carmen Nappo, in 1964.

Marjorie Gould Hahn, director, South Florida Youth Symphony: “When we first started, we had one orchestra, the main Youth Symphony. It had about 65 young people, and every school in the North area had orchestras.”

As a result of budget cuts, there are now only a handful of schools with orchestras, but thanks to grants and support from community partners, the South Florida Youth Symphony is flourishing. They are giving kids in underserved areas a chance to shine.

Some 300 students play in several different orchestras depending on their skill level.

Marjorie Gould Hahn: “We do what we can to help these kids have a great musical opportunity, because it does develop the child, not only in music, but in all aspects of their life.”

Yuuri began playing the violin at age 9. Now, at 21, he is also composing music for the harp.

Yuuri, orchestra member: “I started out as a violinist over here in the intermediate section across the hall, and as I progressed, I finally made it to the symphony, where you really can start anything, whatever age you want.”

Alejandro plays the viola. He says the language of music connects us all.

Alejandro Mendez: “No matter what culture, no matter what country you’re from, anywhere, like the most diverse people, can be in one group playing music together, and I think that’s, like, the beauty of it.”

Since the symphony was formed, more than 5,000 kids have been trained on all kinds of instruments here.

Participation is not just a great musical opportunity. It helps them develop in other ways as well.

Marjorie Gould Hahn: “Parents say, ‘I want to get my kids involved in this, because I know they’re going to be better at math, they’re going to be better at reading, they’re going to be better at social skills. I want them to have an opportunity for scholarships and music and get them scholarships into college.'”

It all sets just the right tone for bright futures, on and off the stage.

If you know someone — some group, or some place we should spotlight — send us an email at 7spotlight@wsvn.com. We’d love to hear from you.

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