Philharmonic Orchestra is a full symphonic orchestra composed of over 100 junior and senior high musicians whose auditions show musicality and advanced technical skills. Providing a concentrated learning and performing experience for aspiring young musicians, Philharmonic Orchestra performs increasingly challenging classical repertoire throughout the year. Members of the Philharmonic Orchestra are exposed to the best of classical music to foster a professional attitude. Individual progress is expected and recognized through chair auditions and Principal solos.  Professional musicians are brought in periodically to coach sectionals. Philharmonic Orchestra has performed throughout the state, including the SW Youth Orchestra Festival at NAU in Flagstaff, the AMEA convention and in California, Germany, England, China, Austria and the Czech Republic.


Junior and senior high

Ensemble Fee

$725 (As of August 2022. Subject to change for 2023-2024 season.)


Wednesday evenings, 6:30-9:00 pm

Central High School
4525 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012


Julie Desbordes

Ensemble Music Level of Difficulty

Performs literature such as: Bizet L’Arlesienne Suite # 2, Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, Saint-Saens Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah, and Dvorak Symphony #8.

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Audition Components


Unaccompanied Solo of your choice. Please perform a total of 3:00 minutes of music from the work. The piece can be longer than 3 minutes but the judges reserve the right to stop listening at the 3 minute mark. Please bring three copies of your notated music for the solo to your audition.

  • Strings – 3 octave major and melodic minor.
  • Winds and Brass – 2 major, 1 minor and chromatic scale-covering the entire range of the instrument.

On the major and minor scales, you may perform as many octaves as you are able. The greater range will receive a higher difficulty score. However, a well-played scale, no matter the difficulty, is best.

Sight Reading

Sight reading material will consist of one or two short selections, selected by the adjudicators. Don’t neglect practicing sight reading pieces you are unfamiliar with to help prepare for this part of the audition.

These are the only requirements specified by conductors.

Orchestral Excerpt


Should you feel the excerpts are above your abilities and have already signed up to audition for Symphony Orchestra, please contact Corinn Moreno to change your preference. Please be aware that this will likely change the time of your audition, so contact Corinn Moreno as soon as possible.

Download Excerpts

Excerpts will be posted April 1, 2023.

Best of luck in your preparation, always start slow and work with a metronome!!


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Julie Desbordes

Julie Desbordes

Conductor, Philharmonic Orchestra

Multidimensional conductor Julie Desbordes leads ensembles in the Americas, Asia, and her native France. Pre-COVID guest conducting appearances included performances with orchestras in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Venezuela and Cuba. Since the onset of the pandemic, she has taught orchestral musicians, music educators, and young conductors online and now also in-person, developing innovations that bring meaning and impact to music making and community building.

Ms. Desbordes made her conducting debut at age 17 and is currently Music Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra at Arizona State University, where she also teaches conducting. Previously based in New York and Baltimore, she led two groundbreaking, inclusive orchestras in New York City: the Queer Urban Orchestra and the Turtle Bay Youth Orchestra.

Also a leader in the El Sistema movement, she was a featured cast member in the documentary film, Crescendo! The Power of Music, directed by Jamie Bernstein, and is a frequent guest conductor and teaching artist at El Sistema programs internationally, as well as being a teaching artist mentor for Carnegie Hall’s Music Educators Workshops since 2019.

As a conductor and an educator, Ms. Desbordes passionately develops new audiences for concert music as she leads diversity and inclusion efforts. In Arizona, her Philharmonia Orchestra collaborates with dancers, incorporates video content into concerts, presents music by underrepresented composers, and consistently delivers performances that excite seasoned and new audiences alike.

Ms. Desbordes holds Master and Bachelor degrees in conducting and trumpet performance from conservatoires in France and Canada. She will soon complete her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in orchestral conducting at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Her conducting mentors have included Raffi Armenian, Gustav Meier and Marin Alsop.

Entrance Audition Application

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Have any questions?

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