About YSSW

‍     The Youth Symphony of the Southwest was founded in 2006 for the express purpose of supporting and fostering the highest quality music education and to inspire and nurture the love of symphonic repertoire by offering hands-on experience to qualified young musicians from 14 through age 20. 

‍     Under the direction of Dr. Jeff Quamo, musicians are offered an opportunity to join their peers for a year of intensive practical orchestra training and music performances, including side-by-side performance opportunities with Symphony of the Southwest. 

‍      YSSW performs works from the standard orchestra repertoire.  Over the last three years the orchestra has played, among other works, Brahms Symphony No.2, Franck Symphony in D minor, Schumann Symphony No.4, Beethoven Leonore Overture No. 3, La Forza del Destino Overture, Pictures at an Exhibition and The Planets.

Young performers gain the value of dedication, teamwork and the desire to strive for excellence in music.

Meet Our Musical Director/Conductor

Dr. Jeff Quamo

‍     Dr. Jeff Quamo greatly appreciates the opportunity to serve as the Musical Director for the Youth Symphony of the Southwest for the 2024 – 2025 season.  Dr. Quamo moved to Arizona in 2004 to pursue his DMA in clarinet performance with Dr. Robert Spring at Arizona State University. His former clarinet teachers include James East (SUNY Fredonia), Jon Hunter (Buffalo Philharmonic), and Kenneth Grant (Eastman School of Music).  He studied jazz with Eddie Daniels, Bruce Johnstone, Mike Crotty, and Michael Kocour.  Dr. Quamo has been a guest soloist with the Arizona Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, BYU Idaho Concert Jazz Band, Salt River Brass, ASU Jazz Repertory Band, ASU Concert Jazz Band, SUNY Fredonia Symphony Orchestra, MCC Band, SCC Band, and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, to name a few.

‍     Dr. Quamo is going into his 25th year as a public school band director.  For the last 14 years, he served as one of the band directors at Mesa High School.  He is excited to take on a new position this year as the director of bands at Chandler High School.  In addition to serving as a high school band director, Dr. Quamo is the musical director of the Scottsdale Concert Band as well as the Phoenix Brass Collective.  He has been an educational advocate for chamber music by serving as the Chair for the AMEA State Solo & Ensemble Festival since 2016.  He is frequently employed as a guest conductor for district honor band ensembles, and also as a state adjudicator for both the ABODA and AZMBA Marching Band and Concert Festival circuits.  Through his educational efforts, he was acknowledged by AMEA as a recipient of the O.M. Hartsell Excellence in Teaching Music Award in 2022.  

‍     In addition to his positions as musical director, Dr. Quamo maintains an active professional performing career as a clarinetist with the Symphony of the Southwest and ZAZU WEST.  He has also performed with the Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Symphony, the Symphony of the West Valley, and Musica Nova.  In 2016 he performed on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent with Cinematic Pop.  In 2019 he enjoyed performing at Carnegie Hall with his wife and daughter with the Millennial Choirs & Orchestras (MCO).

‍     Jeff currently resides in Gilbert with his wife, Jaclyn, and their 5 children.

Meet YSSW Administrator

Dr. Samara Humbert-Hughes

Dr. Humbert-Hughes grew up in the Valley of the Sun and joined the orchestra on viola in Mesa Public Schools in fourth grade. Currently, she directs the orchestra at Santan Junior High School for Chandler Unified School District, teaches in her own private violin/viola studio, and freelances on violin and viola around the valley including for the Symphony of the Southwest and the AZ Philharmonic. Prior to moving back to the Phoenix area in 2020, Dr. Humbert-Hughes taught in Oregon, Louisiana, Cambridge (UK), and most recently at the University of South Carolina serving as an adjunct professor of String Pedagogy and Director of the Suzuki Academy of Columbia. She holds music degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Oregon and a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of Phoenix. When not teaching or playing, Dr. Humbert-Hughes enjoys reading all sorts of books and journals, traveling, knitting, yoga, walking Furbaby Pringles, and hanging out with friends and family.