Youth Orchestra of the Month: Phoenix Youth Symphony

Phoenix Youth Symphony

Phoenix Youth Symphony

Phoenix Youth Symphony

A Brief History of Our 65 Years

In 1947, a forward thinking group formed the Phoenix Symphony Guild with a dual purpose to create the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and to raise funds in their support. In 1952, this same group created a Youth Orchestra with the purpose to train young musicians for The Phoenix Symphony.

In 1955, as the numbers of students increased, the Guild formed the Symphonette Orchestra. Eleven years later, the Junior Strings were added, giving, beginning string players an opportunity to learn basic orchestral skills.

Fast forward to 1992, when the Youth Orchestra and Symphonette Orchestra had both evolved into full symphonic orchestras with 80-100 members each. Phoenix Youth SymphonyTo answer the need for more advanced preparation of strings for these ensembles, Junior Strings evolved into the String Orchestra and no longer admitted beginners. That same year, the Symphonic Winds was added to further woodwind, brass and percussion students’ orchestral skills. A Percussion Ensemble was added in 2004 and Chamber Winds blew in 8 years later providing an enhanced musical experience for the highest level wind, brass and percussion players from Symphonette and Symphonic Winds.

In January 2007, the Guild voted to conduct its operations as The Phoenix Youth Symphony (PYS) to better represent the purposes, marketing and fundraising capabilities of the Phoenix Symphony Guild.

Orchestral Training Program

The Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras are comprised of nearly three hundred students, selected each year, through a rigorous audition process, and invited to train with the String Orchestra, Symphonic Winds, Symphonette Orchestra or Youth Symphony, based on their audition. The selected musicians enjoy weekly rehearsals led by world-class conductors, sectionals coached by professional musicians, weekend retreats and the opportunity to perform before thousands of audience members in the highest quality venues throughout the Valley. PYS orchestras have received local, national and international recognition for excellence and have performed throughout the world.

PYS musicians and conductor Matthew Kasper on AZTV

Music Memory

Music Memory, started in 1960, is a cultural enrichment program designed to enhance elementary school students’ understanding and appreciation of symphonic music. Pieces to be studied are selected by the Music Memory Committee and the PYS Conductor. Listening guides are then written, published and made available to participating students for classroom study. On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, over 5,000 elementary students will attend a concert performed by the Phoenix Youth Symphony,conducted by Mr. Matthew Kasper. Find additional information at

Phoenix Youth Symphony’s Music Memory concert on Fox10 Phoenix

Phoenix Youth Symphony

Young Musicians Competition

The Phoenix Youth Symphony’s Young Musicians Competition for gifted student musicians started in 1960. This annual event, awards fifteen to twenty Senior Division concerto competition winner scholarships to renowned music camps and festivals nationwide, while Junior Division winners receive a $500 cash prize. The Fifty-eighth Annual Young Musicians’ Competition was held at Mesa Community College on January 6 & 7, 2018. Find additional information at

Side-by-Side Concert with the Phoenix Symphony – Sunday, April 22, 2018 at 7:00pm

Each year the Phoenix Youth Symphony performs a Side-by-Side concert with the Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall. This free concert is one that students, families and members, as well as the entire Phoenix arts community, look forward to all season long. Our student musicians will dazzle you with a stirring rendition of Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, and the talented winners of our Young Musicians’ Competition will perform their concerto pieces with the Phoenix Symphony. Tucson Harpist, Claire Thai will play the Ginastera Harp Concerto, Op. 25 and PYS cellist, Leo Kubota will perform the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op 107. Please plan to join us for this wonderful evening of music and mentorship. Ticket information will be posted soon at

Matthew Kasper, conductorDr. Walter Temme, conductorAaron Vogel, conductorDoreen Press, conductorIan Grzyb, conductor
PYS conductors