The Symphoria Youth Orchestras give students with a passion for music an opportunity to develop their skills, refine their musicianship and cultivate an overall appreciation for excellence in music with other similarly interested students. Students receive coaching from Symphoria musicians, masterclasses with selected guest artists and a side by side performance experience with Symphoria musicians.



Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra (SYAO)

The Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra offers an orchestral experience with the most challenging repertoire, somewhat longer rehearsals, and three performance experiences.  In addition, student musicians will join their professional counterparts to perform on a  Symphoria masterworks performance.   Sectional coachings will be offered by Symphoria musicians for each concert cycle, as well as masterclass opportunities throughout the year.   The Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra is open to students up to age 22.

Symphoria Youth Repertory Orchestra (SYRO)

The Symphoria Youth Repertory Orchestra offers a full orchestra experience with three performances, including a side by side performance with Symphoria.  Symphoria musicians will offer sectional coachings for each concert cycle, and SYRO musicians are encouraged to participate in masterclass opportunities throughout the year.  The Symphoria Youth Repertory Orchestra is open to students up to age 18.

Symphoria Youth String Orchestra (SYSO)

The Symphoria Youth String Orchestra brings together the most talented young string musicians in Central New York to practice and perform a wide variety of string repertoire. This orchestra is targeted for middle school students performing at NYSSMA level 3, 4, and 5.


How to Apply for Youth Orchestra 2020-2021

  • Record audition video or videos: see Video Audition Requirements below.
  • Upload audition video(s) to YouTube, with privacy set to “Unlisted.”
  • Complete Registration Form. Include the link(s) to your Video Audition on YouTube.

When to Apply

  • Video Audition Application Deadline:   Ongoing auditions with the $10 SYO Audition Fee.
  • Submit Registration Form (online only) with unlisted YouTube link(s) to your Video Audition.

Is there a fee to apply?

  • Normally, it would cost $10 to audition for SYO. This year, there is no fee if you apply before July 13. SYO Audition Fee ($10) is waived through July 13, 2020.  July 14, 2020 and later, you will be charged the $10 SYO Audition Fee once we receive your registration, which will not be reviewed until the fee is paid (secure credit card payments may be made via

Video Audition Requirements

  • Requirements are divided into two levels: for the Youth String Orchestra (level 3 or level 4) and the Youth Repertory and Young Artists Orchestras (both level 5 and level 6).
    • Symphoria Youth String Orchestra: requirements for string players auditioning at NYSSMA Level 3-4, generally grades 5-8.
    • Symphoria Youth Repertory Orchestra and Symphoria Young Artists Orchestra: requirements for string, woodwind, brass, and percussion players auditioning at NYSSMA Level 5-6, generally grades 8-12.
    • Students playing Level 5 and Level 6 will be placed in the orchestra (Youth Repertory or Young Artists) most suited to his or her playing ability.

Requirements by NYSSMA Level

Symphoria Youth String Orchestra

  • NYSSMA Level 3-4. Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass. (Generally grades 5-8)
    • Play one major scale, up to two sharps or two flats, of your choice.
      • One octave: Level 3
      • Two octaves: Level 4
  • NYSSMA Solo Level 3 or 4, or equivalent
    • Play 3-4 minutes maximum.

Symphoria Youth Repertory and Symphoria Young Artists Orchestras

  • NYSSMA Level 5-6. Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, Percussion, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass.
    • Play one major scale, up to five sharps or five flats, of your choice.
      • Two octaves: Level 5 and Level 6
      • Optional three octave scale instead for Level 6 in these instruments:
        Flute, Clarinet, and Violin.
    • NYSSMA Solo Level 5 or 6, or equivalent
      • Play 4 minutes maximum
    • Contrasting piece
      • A selection that is contrasting to your primary NYSSMA solo, for example music that is slower and lyrical if your solo movement is faster and more technically challenging.
      • The contrasting piece does not have to be in the NYSSMA manual.
      • Play 2 minutes maximum

SYRO and SYAO Video Specifics:

  • Two videos per student may be submitted, although one video is preferred.
  • If submitting two, the Solo may be recorded alone in a separate video.
  • Speaking during the video:
    • Announce first and last name, instrument, grade in fall
    • State name of major scale, titles and composers of pieces before playing each.
    • Look at the camera while talking, speak slowly, and see Tips below

Video Audition Tips and Resources:

What to say on your video audition recording:

  1. First and last name
  2. Instrument
  3. Grade Level in the Fall
  4. NYSSMA Level
  5. Which major scale you’re playing (then play the scale)
  6. Title and composer of your solo piece (then play the solo)
  7. Title and composer of your contrasting piece for Levels 5 and 6 (then play contrasting piece)

When you are ready to upload your audition video(s) to YouTube, with privacy set to “Unlisted,” it is very important to title the YouTube video in this format:

First and Last Name



An example SYO Video Audition title would be:

“Jane Doe, French Horn, NYSSMA Level 5”

In addition to speaking slowly and directly to the camera, we want to provide some tips and resources about recording a video audition, which will be a new experience for many of you.

It’s also important to note that videos will not be accepted if they are edited. Videos must be in one take. The judges are not expecting you to be perfect, but to get an idea of your playing.

This YouTube video features a high school violinist and her useful tips and guidelines for getting the best video audition recording possible. We highly recommend watching it before you start this process:


Please email if you have any questions or concerns. 



How much is the audition fee?

The audition fee is waived through July 13, 2020.   After July 13, it will be $10 for all students and you will be charged the $10 SYO Audition Fee once we receive your registration, which will not be reviewed until the fee is paid (secure credit card payments may be made via

Do I need to play my solo from memory?

No. It isn’t required to play your solo from memory.

Before NYSSMA was cancelled in spring 2020, I was planning on playing Level 5. Can I still audition for SYO on Level 5?

Yes. SYO video auditions should contain a piece(s) that are at your current level of playing, even though no one got to play for NYSSMA this year. There is space on the registration form to enter last year’s NYSSMA level and what your level would have been this year.

If I try out on Level 5 and don’t make the Symphoria Youth Repertory Orchestra, do I have to audition again to participate in the Symphora Youth String Orchestra?

No. You will be placed in the orchestra best suited to your level of playing, and will only need to audition once.

Does the audition committee select which orchestra I should be in or do I have to choose?

The audition committee (consisting of the Symphoria Youth Orchestra conductors) decide which orchestra is the best fit. The conductor’s selections are the final decisions unless an opening becomes available. At that time, the conductor will select a student or students to invite to try out for the next orchestra.

Can I play a solo that doesn’t have a NYSSMA level specified?  

Yes. NYSSMA levels are listed in our requirements to give you an idea of the type of repertoire and approximate level of difficulty that is expected for different ensembles.   It is possible to substitute an alternate work, and if you have any questions about whether the work you plan to play is approximately equal to the NYSSMA levels that are specified, you may want to talk to your school music teacher or private music instructor.

I didn’t get a registration confirmation.   How do I know I know that my registration is confirmed?   

Please do check your junk or bulk mail folders and make sure that the message wasn’t placed there.  If you don’t see it, just drop us an email and we’ll be happy to confirm your registration was received.

How soon will I hear about the audition results?

The audition results will be sent electronically by August 15, 2020.

What are the expectations for School Participation for students enrolled in SYO?

We expect you to participate in your school music programs when such programs exist. By participating in your school music program, you benefit by playing every day, becoming a better sight-reader, and playing an important part in helping to build meaningful music programs in your school and communities.

Q: What does SYO cost?

A: The tuition will be $400 per student for the 2020-2021 season. Payment plans and tuition assistance applications will be available.

Q. I’m trying to submit my application online and it’s not working.  
Most people find that using Firefox solves any issue that they might be experiencing with the form.   Once the form is successfully submitted, you will see a confirmation page confirming that it has been submitted.

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