(L-R) Andy Waters, of Springdale, Md., John Lawrence, of Wash DC, Angelisa Plane, of Greenbelt, Md. all playing the clarinet, along with Richard Blake, of Folton, Md and Nick Ober, of Bowie, Md, both playing the bassoon during their rehearsal of Beethoven's 6th Symphony at Coolidge High School. (Richard A. Lipski/The Washington Post)

Playing in the orchestra has been a rite of passage in the last 50 years for young people from all parts of Washington.

Spece joined the orchestra’s office in December 2004. At that time, she said in an telephone interview, “the education was awesome and amazing but there were a lot of things that needed to be addressed. We had to repair some relationships.” She said the partnership with the DC Public Schools had been “faltering” and has been resolved.

For the last seven years, Spece said, the group has been solvent. “And even in the terrible economy of the last two years, our contributed income has increased,” she said.

Spece plans to stay until early January.

The orchestra has an annual budget of $700,000.

Right now the orchestra and classes draw 800 students, with about 40 instructors.

In 2010 the orchestra celebrated its 50th anniversary and moved to a new facility at the remodeled Eastern High School.

One of her goals, Spece said,was getting the orchestra back on the touring circuit. Next week they head off to Baltimore and Philadelphia, where they will play with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.