Paul Benson

Paul Benson of Minneapolis is the new director of the Cannon Valley Youth Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Deonne Gray)

The Cannon Valley Youth Orchestra, entering its 22nd year, has a new conductor: Paul Benson of Minneapolis. He will take over the program from music director Ellen Hacker, who will be pursuing her master's in music education.

Benson, who received his bachelor's in music education from the University of Minnesota, is an orchestra director and teacher at Bloomington Kennedy High School and a cellist in the Bloomington Symphony.

"CVYO string players want to be challenged and to have fun. We're going to make that happen," said Benson.

The CVYO will hold auditions Saturday, Aug. 24 and Tuesday, Sept. 3 for the fall session beginning Sept. 10. There are three orchestras for advanced beginners, intermediate and advanced string players from elementary to high school age. Currently, students participate from Faribault, Owatonna, Cannon Falls, Lonsdale and Northfield. For details, visit

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