San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra

Founded in 1981, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra is comprised of over 100 culturally diverse musicians, ranging in age from 12 to 21 and selected by annual auditions. Its purpose is to provide a tuition-free orchestral experience of pre-professional caliber to young musicians from the greater Bay Area. The SFSYO is recognized throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as one of the finest youth orchestras in the world. The ensemble has toured Asia and Europe, and in the summer of 2004, the SFSYO embarked on its seventh international tour, performing in many of Europe’s most venerable halls such as Vienna’s Musikverein, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The orchestra made its debut in Berlin, appeared in Germany’s prestigious Rheingau Festival, and performed in two acclaimed French summer music festivals in Lyon and St. Riquier. Previous tours have included concerts at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Paris’s Cité de la Musique, Prague’s Dvořák Hall, St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater as part of the White Nights Festival, and at the Moscow Conservatory. The SFSYO has won first prize in Vienna’s International Youth and Music Festival, has performed for Queen Elizabeth II of England, and has been featured on BBC Radio. Their discography includes several critically acclaimed live concert recordings: Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 recorded at Prague’s Dvořák Hall in 1998; a disc of works by Bartók, Tchaikovsky, and Ravel, recorded at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1995; Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, recorded at Davies Symphony Hall in 1994; and special 10th and 20th anniversary compilation discs. The SFSYO rehearses and performs in Davies Symphony Hall under the direction of Music Director Benjamin Shwartz. As part of the innovative rehearsal program, members of the San Francisco Symphony coach the players each Saturday afternoon in sectional rehearsals. SFSYO members also have the opportunity to meet and work with SFS Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and many of the world-renowned artists visiting the SFS each season.

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