About Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras

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PYS Orchestras include two full symphonic orchestras, two string ensembles, two wind ensembles, and a percussion ensemble:

  • Symphony Orchestra – Our most advanced full orchestra including experienced and exceptionally talented young adults up to age 20.
  • Philharmonic Orchestra – Full orchestra for students in junior and senior high school.
  • Wind Orchestra – Primarily junior and senior high school woodwind, brass, and percussion students.
  • String Orchestra – Strings students in upper elementary and junior high.
  • Prelude Strings – Strings students in grades 1-5.
  • Percussion Ensemble – Made up of percussionists from the other ensembles.
  • Chamber Winds – Our elite ensemble comprised of select members from the other ensembles.

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.

Learn More About Auditions  Apply Here March 1

Entrance Audition 2021-2022 Information

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We are grateful you are interested in PYSO and encourage you to tell your musical friends about our May auditions through your social media, texting and email. We are looking forward to our 70th season of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Dates

Auditions are held annually in May. This year PYSO begins accepting applications on March 1 for the 2021-2022 season.

Video submissions will be due 11:59 PM on May 15, 2021.

Virtual Auditions

Auditions will be virtual. Details on when and how to make your audition video will be posted March 1.

Who Can Audition

The Entrance Audition Application is for new members joining PYSO and for existing members who wish to audition to change ensembles. Current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble for the 2021-2022 season should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom before March 1.

Audition Fee

Non-refundable audition fee – $35

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If you have any questions, please contact PYSO Operations Manager, Todd Betz, at opsmanager@pysorchestras.org.

Audition Frequently Asked Questions

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When are auditions?

Auditions are held annually in May. This year PYSO begins accepting applications on March 1 for the 2021-2022 season.

Who can audition?

The Entrance Audition Application is for new members joining PYSO and for existing members who wish to audition to change ensembles. Current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble for the 2021-2022 season should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom before March 1.

Are auditions in-person or virtual?

This year, auditions are virtual, by video submission. Details on when and how to make your audition video will be posted March 1.

When is the video audition due?

Video submissions will be due 11:59 PM on May 15, 2021.

What will be on the audition?

Audition requirements are different for each ensemble. Choose Ensemble Audition Requirements to the left to learn more about each ensemble.

What is the audition fee?

Non-refundable audition fee – $35

What is the annual membership fee for each ensemble?

Each ensemble has a different fee. Visit the “About” page for each ensemble to learn the ensemble fees.

How do I know which ensemble is right for me?

It is important to us that students are placed in the appropriate ensemble where they are challenged but not overwhelmed. It is also important that students thrive not only in like musical ability but social structures as well (age and grade). We also encourage all students and parents to review the Ensemble Audition Requirements for each ensemble. The requirements reflect technical need by musicians to be successful in that ensemble. (ex. 3-octave scales are particularly important in most string auditions for the Symphony Orchestra).

Can I choose more than one ensemble?

Yes! PYSO recommends students select multiple ensembles in which to be considered for entrance. Here are some examples:

String musicians:

  • Auditioning for Symphony Orchestra will also be considered for Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Auditioning for Philharmonic will also be considered for String Orchestra.
  • Auditioning for String Orchestra will also be considered for Prelude Strings.

Winds, brass and Percussion musicians:

  • Auditioning for Symphony Orchestra will also be considered for Philharmonic Orchestra and Wind Orchestra.
I auditioned for Symphony Orchestra, but don’t make it. Do I have to re-audition for Philharmonic? 

Important: Student’s auditions will be evaluated based on the highest ensemble selected. (ex. Symphony Orchestra auditions will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance. String Orchestra will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance, etc.) Additional ensembles in which to be considered does not require an additional audition. If an audition does not meet the criteria for the ensemble in which it is being adjudicated the students will automatically be considered for the additional ensembles listed and placed into the best ensemble to be successful.

I’m currently a PYSO student. Do I need to audition again?

Only if you want to move up to the next ensemble. PYSO does encourage students to audition each year to continue working their way up the Orchestral Training ladder from the youngest ensembles to the most advanced ensemble. However, current PYSO students wanting to remain in their current ensemble for the 2021-2022 season should complete the Renewal Application in their Google Classroom before March 1 and do not need to audition. Female attire: no bare shoulders; dresses/skirts should be a conservative length; cellists should consider the fullness of your skirt to allow for positioning for the cello. Be sure to practice in the clothes and shoes you plan to audition in.

What should I wear in the video audition?

The key is to always look professional. Avoid t-shirts, shorts, and beach sandals. Female attire: no bare shoulders; dresses/skirts should be a conservative length; cellists should consider the fullness of your skirt to allow for positioning for the cello. Practice at home in your audition clothes and the dress shoes you plan to audition in.

What are some things I can do to prepare for my audition video?

Make sure your audition piece is well prepared. For a piece or excerpt, listen to several different recordings to get a feel for the tempo, phrasing, etc.Record yourself practicing (you can use your smartphone) and take notes listening to the playback. If you get tend to get nervous, perform several times in front of your family. Play for your friends at school. If the audition requires you to play scales, ask your listeners to choose random scales for you to demonstrate. If you do not have someone listening, write the names of scales on small slips of paper and then draw them out of a hat. Scales for string players, practice finding the first note of the scale WITHOUT playing it.

Specific Audition Requirements for Each Ensemble

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Symphony Orchestra  Philharmonic Orchestra

String Orchestra  Prelude Strings

Wind Orchestra  Percussion

Important: Student’s auditions will be evaluated based on the highest ensemble selected. (ex. Symphony Orchestra auditions will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance. String Orchestra will be held to the audition requirement criteria for acceptance, etc.) Additional ensembles in which to be considered does not require an additional audition. If an audition does not meet the criteria for the ensemble in which it is being adjudicated the students will automatically be considered for the additional ensembles listed and placed into the best ensemble to be successful.

Visit this document “Which ensemble is right for me” for more information.

Video Submission Guidelines

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1. All audition components for your video(s) must be done in ONE take each.

  • Solo piece
  • Orchestral Excerpt (Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra submissions only)
  • Scales

2. Your video audition submission should include one video of each component submitted separately with no edits for your virtual audition.

  • Symphony Orchestra – 3 components
  • Philharmonic Orchestra – 3 components
  • Wind Orchestra – 2 components
  • String Orchestra – 2 components (possible additional sight-reading video – details provided at a later date)
  • Prelude Strings – 2 components (possible additional sight-reading video – details provided at a later date)

2. If you do not like a ‘take’ of an individual component, you may try again, as long as your final submission of each component is in one continuous unedited take.

3. You may not edit, cut, splice, or otherwise alter each video.

4. Picture must remain stationary: no panning, zooming, multiple cameras, fading in/out.

5. Video framing: Place the video recording device so that you, your instrument, and your full range of motion are in the frame at all times. Make sure your music stand does not cover your face, instrument, arms/hands and range of motion.

6. Video must not exceed 7 minutes. Judge will stop watching at 7 minutes. Make sure all the components of your audition fit within 7 minutes. It is ok if your video is less than 7 minutes. Remember your solo portion is 3 minutes.

7. Scan and create a PDF of your music to upload with your videos.

8. Tune instrument to A=440.

Video Recording Tips

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  • Recording on a phone or tablet device is fine. A special camera is not necessary.
  • You may want to have someone else press the record and stop button for you so you can start from a relaxed place.
  • Record in a neutral acoustic in your home. Not in your closet (not enough echo) and not in your bathroom (too much echo). A living room or other open space should be ok.
  • Make sure there is no fan (ceiling or otherwise) operating while you play.
  • Record when you can have quiet and no interruptions.
  • Film in a well-lit space. Make sure there is more light in front of you rather than behind you so that you are not back-lit, i.e. do not record with you standing in front of a window.
  • For string instruments, make sure your f-holes are directed toward the video recording device.
  • Place the video recording device on a flat surface with microphone area unobstructed.
  • Check sound levels before recording to make sure sound is not distorted in loud passages and inaudible in soft passages.
  • Use the rear camera rather than the front facing (selfie) camera as the rear camera is typically a higher resolution.
  • Time your solo piece and excerpt ahead of time so you know where to start and stop. You can go over/under the required number of minutes in order to finish a phrase.