Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras

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The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) is a youth orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts under the artistic leadership of Music Director, Federico Cortese.[1] Since 1958, BYSO has served thousands of young musicians from throughout New England with three full symphonic orchestras, two young string training orchestras, six chamber orchestras, a preparatory wind ensemble, a chamber music program and a nationally recognized instrument training program for underrepresented youth from inner-city communities called the Intensive Community Program (ICP).[2] The 2017-2018 season marks the celebration of BYSO's 60th Anniversary.[3]

Each year, BYSO auditions about 900 elementary and secondary students, accepting around half of them.[citation needed]

BYSO offers over 20 performances in some of Boston's venues including Boston Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory, Sanders Theatre at Harvard University and the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University. The orchestras and chamber ensembles rehearse every Sunday from September through June at Boston University College of Fine Arts,[4] where BYSO has been in residence since it was established in 1958. The College of Fine Arts is a major sponsor of BYSO.

BYSO receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the premier federal arts funding agency in the United States, as well as numerous private and public funding sources. In 2007, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state’s agency for arts, humanities and sciences, announced continued support for the BYSO; it ranked the BYSO first among all orchestras in the state for its quality, outreach programs, and fiscal and administrative management.

BYSO has the largest operating budget (in 2010, $2,372,974) of any youth orchestra in the United States, nearly double that of most youth orchestras.

Joe Grimaldi is the current President of BYSO Board of Directors.


Boston Youth Symphony (BYS)[edit]

The Boston Youth Symphony[5], BYSO’s premier ensemble, is composed of 115 advanced players. The group performs a wide range of demanding orchestral repertoire and is led by Music Director, Federico Cortese, and Associate Conductor, Adrian Slywotzky.

During the season, all members of BYS also participate in one of two chamber orchestras, BYS Sinfonietta or BYS Camerata, in which they explore music of the Classical period, including works by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. BYS also annually performs full, semi-staged operas. By studying this repertoire in a chamber orchestra setting, BYS members develop specific techniques of ensemble playing and musical phrasing to a degree they may not otherwise experience within the larger orchestra. The BYS also holds an annual concerto competition open to all of its members.

BYS performs at venues including Boston Symphony Hall, Sanders Theatre at Harvard University, and Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory. BYSO has built an international presence with tours and performances in venues in Israel, Columbia, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Finland, Sweden, Italy, France, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria and Hungary.[citation needed]

Repertory Orchestra (REP)[edit]

Under the direction of conductor Mark Miller, the Repertory Orchestra[6] is an advanced, full symphonic orchestra composed of 107 players of excellent technical and musical ability. Repertory Orchestra has performed in some of Boston's venues including Boston Symphony Hall, Sanders Theatre at Harvard University, Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory and the Tsai Performance Center at Boston University.[citation needed]

During the season, all members participate in one of two chamber orchestras, Repertory Sinfonietta and Repertory Camerata, in which they explore music of the classical period, including great works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Mark Miller conducts Repertory Sinfonietta and John Holland conducts Repertory Camerata.

Junior Repertory Orchestra (JRO)[edit]

The Junior Repertory Orchestra[7], conducted by John Holland, has grown steadily from a small string orchestra to a full symphonic ensemble made up of more than 108 members. Members receive group and individual coaching, which enables them to build solid, fundamental technical and musical skills. John Holland began his first season as the JRO conductor in 2012-2013. Under his leadership, JRO performs four times during the year at several venues throughout the Boston area, including Boston Symphony Hall, Boston University's Tsai Performance Center and Sanders Theatre at Harvard University.

During the year, all JRO members receive sight-singing and ear-training instruction as part of their experience at BYSO. These classes are taught by BYSO staff.

Young People’s String Orchestra (YPSO)[edit]

The Young People’s String Orchestra[8] is conducted by Marta Zurad. YPSO has performed at such venues as Symphony Hall, Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center, Kresge Auditorium at MIT, and has been featured as part of WCRB's Cartoon Festival.[citation needed]

Preparatory Winds (PW)[edit]

The Preparatory Winds[9], directed by Janet Underhill, is the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras' newest ensemble, beginning its first season in 2006-2007. PW is an ensemble of winds, brass, and percussion where students work on orchestral style music in preparation for BYSO’s full symphony orchestras.

Petit Ensemble (PE)[edit]

The Petit Ensemble[10] is BYSO’s newest ensemble.


BYSO's opera program began in 2008 with a semi-staged production of Mozart's Così fan tutte. Since then, BYS has continued to put on a semi-staged opera every year in collaboration with professional singers from around the world. [11] Performances take place at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre under the baton of Music Director Federico Cortese.


  1. ^ "BYSO Who We Are". BYSO Website.
  2. ^ "BYSO Programs". BYSO Website.
  3. ^ "BYSO 60th Anniversary". BYSO Website.
  4. ^ "BYSO Partners". BYSO Website.
  5. ^ "BYSO Boston Youth Symphony". BYSO Website.
  6. ^ "BYSO Repertory Orchestra". BYSO Website.
  7. ^ "BYSO Junior Repertory Orchestra". BYSO Website.
  8. ^ "BYSO Young People's String Orchestra". BYSO Website.
  9. ^ "BYSO Preparatory Winds". BYSO Website.
  10. ^ "BYSO Petit Ensemble". BYSO Website.
  11. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]