Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras Programs
Academic Year Orchestras
Students 7 and older participate in Symphonette, then progress through Debut and Junior Orchestras, with the most skilled players participating in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. Students audition for placement according to their skill level. Repertoire for each orchestra is carefully selected to provide an appropriate degree of challenge for its players. Students have frequent opportunities to perform in public and receive regular coaching, weekly rehearsals, and mentorship by professional musicians in a rigorous program with high expectations.
Marrowstone Music Festival, a residential festival for musicians 13 to 25, is a 2-week program that immerses talented student musicians in intensive study and rewards audiences with concerts of exceptional quality. It takes place on the campus of WWU in Bellingham. Marrowstone in the City is a 2-week, non-residential festival for students 7 to 14. In 2014 there will be two MITC festivals, one in Redmond and one in Shoreline.
SYSO in the Schools
This nationally-acclaimed program provides free instruction from some of the Puget Sound region's finest musicians to students in 24 Seattle-area public schools. It started as the Endangered Instruments Program and continues to help middle school students learn less commonly studied instruments such as oboe, bassoon, French horn, viola and double bass. The program now also includes string instruction for elementary and middle school students.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2008, SYSO received national recognition with a Wallace Excellence Award from The Wallace Foundation. This 4-year, $500,000 grant has funded a major expansion of the SYSO in the Schools program in Seattle - increasing the program's services in schools with high minority populations and providing younger students with weekly group lessons on stringed instruments. A survey of SYSO alumni and ongoing program evaluations show that the organization’s programs “nurture a lifelong love of classical music” and foster “a sense of accomplishment, concentration, teamwork and collaboration skills, and self-expression.” SYSO is also finding success in a series of exciting collaborations with other performing arts groups in the Seattle area - most notably Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Opera.
Currently, SYSO’s most significant challenge is to raise the funds required to maintain the services of its expanded SYSO in the Schools program and to enrich the educational offerings and improve the long-term sustainability of the Marrowstone Music Festival.