PYSO exists to Expand Horizons Through Music and develop the next generation of Artists, Patrons and Leaders.
In 1947, a forward-thinking group formed the Phoenix Symphony Guild with the purpose to create and fund The Phoenix Symphony. Five years later, this same group began the Youth Orchestra in order to train young musicians for The Phoenix Symphony.
In 1955, operating just three years, the Guild began the Symphonette Orchestra in response to overwhelming demand, thus allowing more musicians to prepare for the top-tier Youth Orchestra. Junior Strings was added 11 years later, giving beginning string players an opportunity to learn basic orchestral skills.
As well as adding more ensembles to train more youth throughout the years, the Guild began to conduct its operations as The Phoenix Youth Symphony or PYS in 2007.
The most recent name change reflects the expansion of this organization. PYS is now The Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras, or PYSO. The heart of PYSO, its orchestral training program now includes five ensembles: The Symphony Orchestra, The Philharmonic Orchestra, The String Orchestra, The Prelude String Orchestra, The Wind Orchestra.
Close to three hundred student participate in PYSO’s orchestral training program each year. Selected through a rigorous audition process, and invited to train with one of our ensembles, the young 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.
Through PYSO’s Music Memory program, thousands of elementary students have been introduced to the joy and life-changing possibilities of classical music for the past 60 years. The free program is an inclusive learning experience for Arizona’s elementary students with interactive, online learning guides that introduce and develop content connected to classical music. Students engage in surveys, activities and enter an art contest while learning about music. Music Memory culminates with an engaging, live concert performed by PYSO’s Symphony Orchestra.
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.