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

$814 (As of August 2022. Subject to change for 2023-2024 season.)


Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 9:30 PM
Central High School
4525 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012


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.

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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Matthew Kasper

Matthew Kasper

Artistic and General Director

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.

Aaron Vogel

Aaron Vogel

Conductor, Wind Orchestra/Chamber Winds

Aaron Vogel is currently in his 21st year of teaching and serves as the Director of Instrumental Music at Mountain Ridge High School and High School Band Lead for the Deer Valley Unified School District. He is the Conductor for the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra’s Wind Orchestra (Wind Orchestra and Symphonic Winds combined for 2022-2023 season). He is a Recording Academy® GRAMMY Music Educator Award Quarterfinalist and a recipient of the Citation of Excellence from the National Band Association and the O.M. Hartsell Excellence in Teaching Award from the Arizona Music Educators Association.

Recent honors at Mountain Ridge include the Saxophone Quartet’s performance at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, IL in December 2021, the Wind Ensemble’s performance at the 2020 Arizona Music Educators Conference, and their performance as a Featured Band at the 2019 Music for All National Concert Band Festival in Indianapolis, IN. The Mountain Ridge Pride of the West Marching Band has consistently qualified for the ABODA State Marching Band Championships and concluded the 2019 competitive season as the ABODA Division 1 Arizona State Marching Band Champions and the AzMBA State Champions in Class 4A. In 2017-18 and 2018-19 the Mountain Ridge Band Program received the ABODA  “William E. Richardson Program of Distinction Award” recognizing superior achievement in all areas of the program.

Prior to his appointment at Mountain Ridge, Aaron was the Director of Bands at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona, and taught in public schools in Colorado and North Carolina.

Ensembles under his direction have received multiple accolades for excellence in performance including consistent Superior and Superior with Distinction ratings at Area and State Festivals, the National Programs of Excellence Blue Ribbon Award from the National Band Association, and four State Marching Band Championships in 2019, 2013, 2012 and 2009. Featured performances include the 2021 Midwest Clinic, the 2019 and 2012 Music for All National Concert Band Festival, the 2014 Taoyuan, Taiwan International Band Festival, the 2010 Western International Band Clinic, and three Music Educators Conference Honor Band performances in 2020, 2011 and 2010.

Outside of his work in the public schools, Aaron serves as a conductor for the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestras and as a Board Member for the Arizona Marching Band Association. He has been actively involved in the state and national levels of the marching activity as an instructional staff member for The Cadets, The Cavaliers and the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps. As a performer, he was an original cast member in the Tony and Emmy award-winning production of Blast! in London’s West End and a marching member of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps.

Aaron received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education magna cum laude from Ithaca College, and a Masters in Music Education and Wind Conducting from the University of Colorado Boulder, where he studied conducting with Allan McMurray and was a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Aaron lives in Phoenix with his wife Becky, daughter Abigail and son Aiden. He is a native of Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Entrance Audition Application

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