Alumni spotlight | YMCA Black Achievers grad Saraphina Knights performs with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra

15 March 2024 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

From participating in the YMCA Black Achievers Mentorship Program to performing her original song All In My Head with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) last month, Saraphina Knights is inspiring.

"Performing with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra was such a surreal moment in the initial stages of my career!" Saraphina shared, reflecting on the opportunity that made one of her musical aspirations a reality.

Her professional journey began with the support of mentors like Samantha Adebiyi, Program Coordinator for the YMCA Black Achievers Mentorship Program. As part of Black Achievers, Black youth attend events around Toronto and participate in creative projects together. "Being a graduate of this mentorship program allowed me to attend many [Toronto Symphony Orchestra] TSO shows at Roy Thompson Hall without worrying about the costs," Saraphina said, highlighting the Black Achievers’ role in encouraging her musical talent.

Driven by her passion for music, Saraphina composed her original song, All In My Head, envisioning a collaboration with a string quartet. With the support of mentors like Samantha and the TSO’s Nicole Balm, Saraphina was ready to refine her composition for live performance. Nicole connected Saraphina with Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, Barrett Principal Education Conductor & Community Ambassador at the TSO, who reviewed her composition and helped her make changes.

For Saraphina, performing with the TSYO during the YMCA’s Black History Month Finale Event held special significance. "I am thankful that the YMCA welcomed my idea with open arms and gave me a platform to express myself and my music," she shared.

Saraphina's mentors have emphasized the importance of her performance with the TSYO, expressing their pride in her achievements and their satisfaction in seeing her receive well-deserved recognition, both for her artistic abilities and her professionalism.

As she continues to pursue music, Saraphina remains grateful for the support of organizations like the YMCA and TSO. "Participating in the Black Achievers program has impacted my life in ways I'll always be grateful for," she acknowledged, recognizing the importance of mentors and community support in her success.

Saraphina's story shows the value of community, networking, and nurturing your talents. We're excited to follow her in her future endeavours. To stay current on Saraphina’s projects, consider following her on Instagram. Saraphina’s next performance is scheduled for Monday, March 18, at The Emmet Ray.


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