Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies

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Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
Gtcys logo.jpg
Background information
Origin Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA

The Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS) is a group of youth orchestras in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Founded in 1972, GTCYS has served over 16,000 musicians and put on more than 500 concerts. The top orchestra has also traveled on 12 national and international tours.[1] GTCYS currently features 8 orchestras for young musicians any age through high school.

GTCYS is a youth orchestra program based in the Greater Twin Cities metro that draws over 600 students from eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Artistic director is Mark Russell Smith, who also conducts the top orchestra, Symphony.

Mission: In the conviction that music nourishes the body, mind, and spirit of the individual and enriches the community, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies provides a rigorous and inspiring orchestral experience for young musicians.

History: Founded in 1972, GTCYS (pronounced “GIT-seez”) was created to provide an educational orchestra program for motivated music students from throughout the metropolitan area and outlying communities. Since then, more than 16,000 students have honed their musical talents and developed lifelong skills that have helped them succeed not only as musicians, but as teachers, community leaders, doctors, lawyers, business professionals, and entrepreneurs. GTCYS holds a treasured place in the Minnesota arts and cultural landscape, with students showcasing their talents through performances at prestigious concert halls and events as well as for underserved audiences. Artistic Director Mark Russell Smith joined GTCYS’ staff in 2012 and provides dynamic leadership and artistic oversight for our programs. GTCYS collaborates with world-class artists and organizations including guest conductors Osmo Vänskä, Roberto Abbado, and Nicholas McGegan and projects with the Minnesota Chorale. Renowned for our rich international touring history, GTCYS performed by invitation at the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance (Spain) in 2014, and also performed in Argentina in June 2016, and will tour Germany, Poland, and Hungary in June 2018.

In 2011, GTCYS and the SPCO formed a strategic partnership to serve the community through music and build classical music audiences.


There are currently eight orchestras starting from the rudimentary level. All of the orchestras require an audition which will place the instrumentalist into an orchestra that meets their playing needs. The only exception are the two Summer Orchestras that play and meet during the Summer which do not require an audition. Halfway through the Fall/Spring semester there is a Winter Audition for students who wish to participate for the last half of the GTCYS year.

  • The first orchestra level is the Philharmonia East and Philharmonia West directed by Mary Sorlie.

This orchestra is split between East and West locations for rehearsals and performances. These orchestras do not have any woodwind, brass, or percussion instruments.

This orchestra involves the Brass, Percussion, and Woodwinds. The auditions are more difficult and require harder audition pieces and more scales.

  • The third tier is Concertino. This orchestra is conducted by Dan Mollick.

This orchestra involves the Brass, Percussion, and Woodwinds. The auditions now become more difficult and require harder audition pieces and more scales.

This orchestra involves Brass, Percussion, and Woodwinds. The auditions now become slightly more difficult and require harder audition pieces and more scales.

The Top three Orchestras are Concert Orchestra (Benjamin Klemme), Philharmonic (Gary Wolfman), and Symphony (Mark Russell Smith). ALL orchestras include a full range of Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion and focus on more advanced music with a large range music from contemporary to the classics.

  • Concert Orchestra is the lowest of the high, it is conducted by Benjamin Klemme.

This orchestra is the lowest to regularly play unedited works for orchestra.

  • Philharmonic is second only to the Symphony orchestra, is conducted by Gary Wolfman.

In this orchestra, students begin to tackle the more difficult works in the professional orchestral repertoire.

It has the most advanced set of music and players. This orchestra has the opportunity to travel internationally.

Concerts have been performed at notable venues in the Twin Cities such as Orchestra Hall and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. GTCYS orchestras have also performed around the world, in such venues as the Sydney Opera House. Symphony, the flagship orchestra, traveled to Spain during the spring of 2014 by invitation to the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance. In 2016, Symphony travelled to Argentina with major concerts in Buenos Aires, performances in Rosario and Santa Fe. In 2018, Symphony will be travelling to Germany, Poland, and Hungary with major concerts in these areas.

Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies


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