Symphony Orchestra is the most advanced group in the PYSO Orchestral Training Program. Accepted by audition, members are experienced, exceptionally talented, dedicated young adult (up to age 20) musicians. Symphony Orchestra requires personal commitment and ensemble skills; individual preparation and progress are expected and recognized through periodic chair auditions and Principal solos. Symphony Orchestra performs professional orchestral repertoire in PYS concerts and for over 10,000 students annually through Music Memory Concerts.

A unique opportunity for members of PYSO is rehearsing and performing “side-by-side” with The Phoenix Symphony. In previous years the Symphony Orchestra has performed throughout Arizona, in Carnegie Hall, and in Germany, France, New Zealand, Central Europe, British Isles, China and Italy.


High school

The Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras Board of Directors has approved a policy that allows students up to the age of 20 to participate in the Symphony Orchestra beginning with the 2020-2021 season. This policy is for the Symphony Orchestra only, and a student must be no older than 20 years old on September 1, 2023 to be eligible. 

Ensemble Fee



Wednesdays, 6:30 – 9:00 PM
The School of Ballet Arizona
2825 E Washington St, Phoenix 85034


Matthew Kasper

Ensemble Music Level of Difficulty

Performs music from the standard professional orchestra literature, which will be considerably more difficult than the normal high school repertoire and on par or above the difficulty level of a standard college orchestra. Musicians auditioning for Symphony Orchestra should already be at a high level of playing ability on their respective instruments.

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Audition Components


Unaccompanied solo work or movement of a sonata or concerto of student’s choice. Include both fast and slow passages and show advanced techniques. 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.

The moderators of auditions will tell the auditioner one key for major and one key for minor to play on the audition day when they are onstage. Be prepared to play them all, moderators can ask for any major or melodic minor scale in all flats and sharps. No natural minor or harmonic will be asked.

*Please note requirements are the same for Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra. Students not selected for Symphony will automatically be considered for Philharmonic. The conductors have decided to keep the audition requirements the same for both groups to streamline this process.

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 us to change your preference. Please be aware that this will likely change the time of your audition, so contact us as soon as possible. Visit our Contact page and choose “Auditions”.

Download Excerpts

Audition Excerpts

*Please note requirements are the same for Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra. Students not selected for Symphony will automatically be considered for Philharmonic. The conductors have decided to keep the audition requirements the same for both groups to streamline this process.

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


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Matthew Kasper

Matthew Kasper

Artistic, General Director, Conductor, Symphony Orchestra

American conductor Matthew Kasper currently serves as Resident Conductor of The Phoenix Symphony and Artistic Director of The Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras. Past posts have included Music Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Chicago Composers Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and he served on the faculty of the Aaron Copland School of Music.

In his fifth season with The Phoenix Symphony, Matthew has proven a wide-range of ability leading Classics, Pops, SFTS, Chamber and other programs during his tenure. This success led to his promotion from Assistant to Resident Conductor in the 2018-19 season. This season Matthew will led over thirty-five performances including multiple Pops and education programs as well as his debut conducting Handel’s Messiah. He will also be on stage to lead the return of Troupe Vertigo in Prokofiev’s Cinderella, the annual Side-by-Side with The Phoenix Youth Symphony and in the symphony’s new Scottsdale Series featuring the music of Mendelssohn and Schumann.

In demand as a guest conductor, Matthew has conducted extensively in the United States, Europe and Asia. Recent seasons included successful debuts with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Tucson Symphony and the Evergreen (Taiwan) Symphonies. Matthew has also appeared with the Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Lorraine, Opera National de Lorraine, Queens Symphony Orchestra, The Phoenix Symphony and the Salt River Ballet. Matthew has served as cover conductor for The Cleveland Orchestra, The San Diego Symphony, The Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Musicfest and the Queens Symphony.

Equally at home in symphonic and operatic repertoire, Matthew made his European debut with the Orchestre Symphonique et Lyrique de Nancy in 2014 and also served as an assistant conductor for the Opera National de Lorraine where he prepared the internationally acclaimed staged premiere of Gerald Barry’s The Importance of Being Earnest. He was immediately re-engaged for productions of Bernstein’s Candide and Britten’s Owen Wingrave. 2013 also marked Matthew’s debut with the Queens Symphony Orchestra, which subsequently let to him being named Interim Music Director for the 2015 season.

As Artistic Director of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras, Matthew has been a driving force to expand the orchestra’s season and footprint in the community. He has been instrumental in cultivating relationships with other arts organizations in Phoenix including forming an assistant conductor program with the Arizona State University School of Music, serving as a partner organization for the Arizona Piano Institute and collaborating with the Ballet Arizona school for educations programs and full length ballet performances with The Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras.

An avid music educator, Matthew served as an adjunct faculty member of conducting staff at the Aaron Copland School of Music from 2011-2014, where taught conducting classes and conducted the orchestra in performances of symphonic, musical theater and opera performances. With The Phoenix Symphony Matthew conducts the orchestra’s educational and family concerts, reaching over 15,000 children annually.

Trained as a violinist, Matthew is a former member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra where he performed under illustrious conductors such as Bernard Haitink and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He holds degrees in violin performance from Queens College and the Chicago College of Performing Arts where his principal teachers were Burton Kaplan and Shmuel Ashkenasi. Matthew holds a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from Queens College where he was a student of Maurice Peress. He received additional training at the prestigious Pierre Monteux School for Conductors as a Quimby Family Foundation Fellow where he studied with Michael Jinbo.

Originally from Madison Wisconsin, Matthew currently resides in Phoenix with his wife Rebecca, son Theodore and daughters Fiona and Magnolia.

Entrance Audition Application

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