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About Us


The Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra remains an affiliated group of the Bakersfield Symphony, operating under its board of directors with able assistance from manager, Gemi Acupan, parents, symphony coaches, and private teachers. Funding is provided by corporate and private contributions, player tuition, and ticket sales. The Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra has toured extensively including places such as Japan, England, Scotland, and South Korea. 



Dr. Leo Sakomoto is the Director of Instrumental Studies at California State University, Bakersfield, where he conducts the Concert Band, Symphonic Band, and Chamber Orchestra, directs the Pep Band, and teaches courses in music education and conducting. Under his leadership, the CSUB Instrumental Music program has grown from one large instrumental ensemble to three, and has received several honors, including recognition from the College Band Directors National Association.  He is also the founding advisor of the CSUB Collegiate Chapter of the National Association for Music Education. 

Dr. Sakomoto received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music

Education from California State University, Los Angeles,

where he studied conducting with David Buck, Thomas Miyake and Abel Ramirez, and studied trumpet with Kevin Brown and James Ford.He received his Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees in conducting from UCLA under the mentorship of Thomas Lee. He has also studied with conductors such as Richard Floyd, Jerry Junkin, Craig Kirchhoff, Allan McMurray, and H. Robert Reynolds. He completed all three levels of study in the Kodály Method through the Organization of American Kodály Educators. Dr. Sakomoto is a committed champion of new music for wind band, having commissioned directly or involved with consortiums from composers such as Xi Wang, Adam Schoenberg, Andrew Boysen Jr, Dante De Silva, Kyle Shaw, James Sproul.

Dr. Sakomoto maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator at the middle school through university levels.  Recent guest conducting engagements include honor bands in Texas, South Carolina and California, and rehearsal clinics in Ecuador. He is active as a conference presenter, previously lecturing on wind band repertoire and performance practice of the Spanish Pasodoble, and most recently presenting a clinic on music festival performance practice and preparation at the California All-State Music Educators Conference.  Awards received include Outstanding College/University Music Educator and Music Educator of the Year, both from the Kern County Music Educators Association. He was an invited participant in the Nordic Wind Band Conducting Competition in Helsinki, Finland.

Dr. Sakomoto currently serves on the boards of the Kern County Music Educators Association, Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the California Music Educators AssociationCentral Section board. He is a member of the College Band Directors Association, the National Association for Music Education, California Music Educators Association, Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, American String Teachers Association, and the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles.


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Regina Pryor



Regina Pryor is a veteran of the Bakersfield music education community and an advocate and board member of numerous organizations. With over thirty years teaching in the Panama Buena Vista Union School District, Regina has been president of KCMEA, on the board of The Bakersfield Sister City Project, and most recently, President of the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra.


Gemalene "Gemi" Acupan


Gemalene “Gemi” Acupan’s career as conductor, trumpeter, and teacher spans concert halls and elementary school classrooms across Southern California. Acupan received her MM in orchestral conducting with Neal Stulberg at UCLA. She teaches a private trumpet studio in Kern County and currently directs at Bakersfield Christian High School and Bakersfield College.

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