Youth Orchestra Program
Youth Concert Orchestra
Youth Concert Orchestra (YCO) is a full-orchestra experience (the first of its kind for many students in the group).
2023-2024 Full Season Tuition: $580
About Youth Concert Orchestra
Intermediate-Level Full Orchestra
Age Requirement: Rising 5th grade or higher
Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, Percussion
Violin, Viola, Cello, & Bass
Assistant Professor of Music Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
Youth Concert Orchestra (YCO) is a full-orchestra experience (the first of its kind for many students in the group). Players generally move into YCO with experience playing in other string orchestras or wind ensembles. Listening, blending, and making music within the full orchestra setting is a challenge met by all students in YCO. In this ensemble, principal players learn what it means to effectively lead a section and all players learn to play together with unity, passion, precision and musical excellence. Students refine musical skills by performing original masterworks, arrangements and pops favorites.
Interested in auditioning for the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra? Click here to sign up for an audition.
YOP General FAQs
String Sinfonietta, Camerata Strings, and Youth Concert Orchestra present two concerts each season.
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra presents three performances each season.
Most youth orchestra concerts take place in Carpenter Theatre at the Dominion Energy Center. We also work to provide additional performance opportunities for all ensembles in the community throughout the season.
Private lessons are not required, however they are strongly encouraged for all of our students to help advance their skills.
Parent Representatives are a vital ingredient for the success of YOP. Parent representatives are present at every rehearsal to assist with set-up and to supervise check-in and dismissal. 90% tuition assistance will be granted for one child per parent representative in YOP for the current year. Applications are reviewed at the beginning of each season. Apply to be a parent rep here.
Yes! The Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program is very proud to support music education at all levels, and our policy has always been that Youth Orchestra musicians must participate in their school’s band and/or orchestra program, if class instruction is offered for their instrument. A Teacher’s signature required during enrollment period.
Some YOP ensembles do have age restrictions. All YOP students must be enrolled in Public, Private, or Home school. College students are not eligible to join YOP.
- String Sinfonietta: No age restriction.
- Camerata Strings: No age restriction. Students should have prior ensemble experience.
- Percussion Ensemble: Rising 5th grade or higher
- Youth Concert Orchestra: Rising 5th grade or higher.
- Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra: Rising 7th grade or higher
YOP Audition FAQs
There is no cost to audition for the Youth Orchestra Program. Check each ensemble's page to learn more about tuition costs.
Our youth orchestra ensembles are separated by skill level, not by age or grade, following the order below:
String Sinfonietta (no audition required)
Youth Concert Orchestra (YCO): rising 5th grade or higher
Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO): rising 7th grade or higher
Percussion Ensemble requires an audition with the Director, Dr. Justin Alexander, who will also place students into either YCO or RSYO.
Please note that YCO and RSYO require age minimums, as detailed above.
Each ensemble requires different audition guidelines, which can be found under each ensemble’s page. We recommend that you/your student review these guidelines with their school music teacher or private instructor in order to select the appropriate level for you/your student.
Sinfonietta Strings, our entry level ensemble, does not require an audition.
Any additional questions about recommended ensemble levels can be directed to the YOP team:
Students should come ready to perform Scales, Prepared Selections, Excerpts (for RSYO), and Sightreading. Refer to each ensemble's guidelines for specific instructions on what should be prepared.
YOP Auditions are not blind. Judges will be able to see the student throughout the audition and may ask questions and review selections during your audition.
We encourage students to dress in whatever way feels comfortable and allows adequate movement so they can play their instrument well.
We do not require Suzuki specific repertoire, but we do recommend students use the following Suzuki Book Levels as guidelines for their Prepared Selections:
- Camerata Strings: Suzuki Book levels 2 - 4
- Youth Concert Orchestra: Suzuki Book levels 4 - 5+
- Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra: Suzuki Book levels 6+
All students should come ready to perform Scales, Prepared Selections, Orchestral Excerpts (for RSYO only), and Sightreading. Refer to each ensemble's guidelines for more specific instructions for audition preparation.
Students who are auditioning for the Youth Orchestra Program should bring the following:
- A music stand for the warm-up room (A music stand is provided in the audition room.)
- Three copies of your Prepared Selections (if applicable)
- A copy of your excerpts (For RSYO Students)
Students should expect audition results in the two weeks after their audition.
Our judges will work to place students in the ensemble that best fits their current skill set. Students who do not get accepted to their chosen ensemble may be offered a spot in another ensemble, and/or be placed on a waiting list.
Students on a waiting list will be notified of any changes before the start of the season if a spot in an ensemble opens up. Students must be enrolled in the ensemble they were placed in order to be eligible for the waiting list.
Please reach out to the YOP team (email@example.com) with details about your conflict and we will work towards an alternate audition option on a case-by-case basis.
A link to YOP registration will be emailed to students and families when audition results are distributed.
The Youth Orchestra Program holds additional auditions in early August, as well as mid-season auditions in November, to fill any holes in our sections (typically woodwinds and brass). These auditions are only for students new to the program. We cannot guarantee your instrument will have an opening during these auditions in August and November, so we encourage students to audition during the June audition cycle. Current YOP students may only audition into a higher ensemble during June auditions.