The most advanced students participate in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, whose performances take place in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center.
Being a member of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Music Institute is transformative for hundreds of students. After months of virtual-only auditions due to COVID 19 restrictions, PYO Music Institute is pleased to return to in-person auditions in September for all ensembles. Auditions will take place from September 10 to 13 at St. Patrick’s Hall, 20th and Locust Streets in Center City Philadelphia, and at Settlement Music School’s Wynnefield Branch in Philadelphia, PA. For audition requirements and scheduling information, please visit https://pyomusic.org/audition.
Maestro Louis Scaglione, President and Music Director, said, “While virtual auditions allowed us to see the talent of hundreds of students during the pandemic, we look forward to live, in-person auditions when we can meet students and be present for their audition.”
An alumna of PYO who participated from 1974 to 1980 is Philadelphia Orchestra member Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia. An English Horn instrumentalist, she said, "Saturday morning rehearsals with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra were the highlight of my junior high and high school years. The ability to perform orchestral masterpieces with top Philadelphia student musicians was the foundation of my successful career in music."
PYO Music Institute is one of the oldest and most respected orchestra programs in the nation. Music students, age 6 to 21, are invited to participate in one of PYO Music Institute’s six ensemble programs. The students will experience music education and performance at the highest levels. In addition to music education, the experience provides the potential for students to become tomorrow’s leaders, both on and off the stage, while developing responsibility, discipline, and character skills that promote future success.
The six ensemble programs that accept online and in-person auditions are:
- The anchor group is the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), conducted by President and Music Director Louis Scaglione, which features 130 gifted instrumentalists who range in age from 15-21.
- Young musicians 13-18 years old are featured in PYO’s companion ensemble, the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO), which is led by Director and Conductor Maestra Rosalind Erwin, who is Music Director and Conductor of Drexel University Orchestra.
- Young Musicians Debut Orchestra (YMDO), directed and conducted by Maestro Kenneth Bean with Associate Conductor Rachel Segal, is a beginning to intermediate-level full symphonic orchestra that provides most students with their first introduction to large orchestral playing, featuring students age 11-17 years old.
- Bravo Brass, directed by Curtis Institute of Music Dean, Paul Bryan, is an all-brass ensemble for promising middle and high-school instrumentalists.
- Prysm Strings and Prysm Strings Young Artists ensembles provide string large ensemble and sectional master class instruction for beginning and intermediate musicians age 6-14. The director and conductor of Prysm Strings is Gloria dePasquale, cellist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the conductor of Prysm Strings Young Artists is Andrea Weber.
- The newest ensemble is Pizzicato Players for 12 to 21-year-old student musicians. This ensemble provides musical experiences students who play such plucked instruments as the Classical/Acoustic Guitar, Harp and “Folk” Harp, Mandolin, Lute and Theorbo. Created and directed by Paul Smith, it is for intermediate and advanced student musicians.
The PYO Music Institute is the tri-state region’s premier youth orchestra organization for gifted, young, classical musicians, and one of the oldest and most highly regarded youth orchestra organizations in the United States. For 81 years, the PYO Music Institute organization has been providing professional-caliber musical experiences to young instrumentalists, while thrilling audiences in the Greater Philadelphia region and across the globe.
The audition process is the first step in joining one of the ensembles. With the guidance from their private studio and/or school music teacher, students are encouraged to review the required scales and excerpts and to select the appropriate set that will best demonstrate their current level of technical and musical ability. Students will be placed in the appropriate ensemble program based on their submitted audition materials, as well as prior orchestra experience. Respective program and audition information links for all program divisions are posted online. Financial aid is available for qualified families. Additional instructions and details about how to register for an audition is available online at https://pyomusic.org/audition.