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Kirkwood High School Students and Staff Member Selected to St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra

Four Kirkwood High School students and one staff member were chosen to participate in the 54th season of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. Senior Mallory Mihm, viola; senior Elizabeth Myers, bassoon; sophomore Althea Althauser, trombone alternate; and senior Jamie Decker, keyboard instruments. Teaching assistant Ariana Coan was also selected to play trumpet.

The St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra is an auditioned ensemble of 100 accomplished young musicians from the St. Louis region and beyond. Recognized nationally for its superb artistry, the YO performs expert-level repertoire at three free concerts each season.  

Musicians in the YO, aged 12 to 22, regularly take part in coaching from St. Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians and participate in the SLSO’s Peer to Peer mentorship program. Founded in 1970 by SLSO Conductor Laureate Leonard Slatkin, there are now more than 2,000 YO alumni in a wide range of professions, including three current members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Mallory Mihm

Mallory Mihm is a seventeen-year-old senior at Kirkwood High School. The 2023/2024 season will be her third year being a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Mallory started playing viola at the age of nine, in a school program with Patrick Jackson. She is currently being taught by Anna Lackschewitz.

Through eight years of progress, she has worked her way up through the orchestras of the Community Music School of Webster University and has spent two years in the Preparatory Program. She is a two-time member of the All State Orchestra. She attended the 2022 Interharmony International Music Festival in Acqui Terme, Italy and the 2023 Orfeo Music Festival in Vipiteno, Italy, where she focused on chamber and solo music.

Outside of orchestra, Mallory enjoys reading, traveling, and baking.

Mallory would like to thank her teachers and conductors for the support she has received over the years. 

Elizabeth Myers

Elizabeth is currently a senior attending Kirkwood High School. This is her 7th year playing the bassoon, and her third season with the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition to playing bassoon, she also enjoys playing trombone in her school’s marching band and piano in her school’s jazz band.

As a freshman, she was selected as an alternate for the Missouri All-State Band, served as 2nd bassoon in the All-State Orchestra her sophomore year, and was again selected for the All-State orchestra her junior year, playing as 1st/2nd bassoon. Before joining the SLSYO, she also participated in the Young People’s Concert Orchestra with the Community Music School at Webster University. She is also a substitute with the University City Symphony Orchestra. In 2022, she attended the Bassoon Intensive at Interlochen Arts Camp, and she attended the Advanced Bassoon Intensive in 2023, where she worked with Dr. Leigh Muñoz, Dr. Eric Stomberg, Conrad Cornelison, and Benjamin Kamins.

Elizabeth would like to thank her parents for supporting her music career both emotionally and financially, and she would also like to thank her band directors at Kirkwood High School. She would especially like to thank Jeff Panhorst and Felicia Foland, her private instructors, for all their guidance and support.


Students participated in a two part recorded audition. Preliminary auditions consist of scales and a solo of the student's choice. For the final audition, students play a set of orchestral excerpts. Auditions are judged on intonation, rhythm, sound production and overall musicianship. The Music Director of the SLSYO and members of the SLSO served as the judges for auditions.


Althea Althauser

Althea Althauser is thrilled to join the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra this year. This will be her first season with the SLSYO, and she hopes that her participation in this prestigious group will continue in the future. Althauser says she fell in love with the trombone at an early age, from the moment she heard a student from Kirkwood High School demonstrate its sound for the district band program when she was in the fourth grade. After signing up for instruction on the trombone, she began what turned out to be a long-lasting journey of hard work, love for music, and drive for excellence. Now a sixteen-year-old sophomore at KHS, she has completed two years of performance in the Community Music School of Webster University’s youth orchestras, including Young People’s Concert Orchestra and Young People’s Symphonic Orchestra. Along with her acceptance into the St. Louis All-Suburban band in 2022, these experiences have fueled her interest in orchestral trombone performance. 

For five years, Althauser has been influenced by wonderful teachers and role models on her journey with the trombone. She would like to thank Kirkwood School District band directors Matthew Banks, Rebecca Friesen, and Eric Chrostoski for providing her with the tools and inspiration to develop a passion for music and her instrument. She has also received private instruction from Metro School District’s Marquita Reef for the past four years of her education, and studied under Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s own Jonathan Reycraft as well. Finally, Althea would like to thank every friend, family member, or teacher who has ever shown up to a concert, supported her dream with kind words, or simply bothered to listen to her play her instrument. These little things are, in reality, a big portion why she’s been accepted into the SLSYO as an alternate.

Althauser would also like to thank you, as an appreciator of music, for listening to her story and caring to spend time supporting the arts. She hopes you enjoy SLSYO’s 2023-2024 season as much as she will!

Jamie Decker


Jamie Decker is a 17 year old senior at Kirkwood High School in St. Louis, Missouri. This is his second year as a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and his tenth year studying piano with Amanda Kirkpatrick. Along with working on solo and concerto repertoire, Jamie also plays chamber music in the CMS Preparatory Program, accompanies for the choir program at Kirkwood High School, studies organ with Bill Stein at First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, and plays violin in the Kirkwood High School Concert Orchestra. He has also had the opportunity to participate three times in the Indiana University Summer Piano Academy.

Outside of just playing music, Jamie is also an enthusiast of listening to and studying classical repertoire. He frequently attends St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concerts and has traveled out of state with his family for a number of operas and concerts over the past few years. He has worked on writing compositions of his own, and hopes to one day go into conducting as well. 

Ariana Coan

Ariana Coan is a trumpet player from Staunton, IL starting her 3rd season in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. She graduated in 2022 at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with her degree in Music Performance. Lately, she has enjoyed playing cornet in the St. Louis Brass Band and with her friends in a brass quintet. She now works in Kirkwood school district as a band teaching assistant for high brass, and in her spare time she enjoys teaching trumpet lessons at Music & Arts, drawing, and spending time with her cat, Comet. 

She would also like to thank her family, friends, and past professors for being supportive of her choices in the music field, and for helping her to find opportunities to continue to grow as a musician. A very special thank you goes to her professor, Dr. John Korak at SIUE, for the many years of lessons and guidance in playing the trumpet, and also to her more recent mentors Austin Williams and Karin Bliznik.