Houston Youth Symphony's core program is made up of four orchestras for various skill-levels, led by a professional conducting staff. With approximately 300 young musicians participating each season, the four orchestras are described as follows:
The Symphony is the most advanced ensemble, performing full orchestra repertoire on the university and professional level. In 2012, the Symphony was featured on National Public Radio's From the Top, a rare appearance by a youth orchestra on this nationally syndicated program. In recent seasons, the HYS Symphony and its artistic director and conductor Dr. Michael Webster have been frequent winners of prestigious national competitions, including The American Prize and the Mark of Excellence. (Click here to listen to recent performances of the HYS Symphony.)
The Philharmonia is a full-sized orchestra for the advanced player and is comparable to an intensive all-state orchestra experience. Literature choices are designed to expose students to a diversified selection of orchestral music. The Philharmonia is conducted by Michael Alan Isadore.
The Sinfonia is a full-sized intermediate level orchestra that allows string players to build upon techniques learned in the String Orchestra and offers woodwind, brass and percussion players a full orchestra experience. The Sinfonia is conducted by Dr. Brad Smith.
The String Orchestra provides a comprehensive ensemble experience and individualized instruction for developing string players. The String Orchestra is led by Co-Conductors Carolyn Vandiver and Ann Victor.
The Preparatory Orchestra provides an introductory ensemble experience for developing string players. The Preparatory Orchestra is led by Dr. Jackson Guillén.
Weekly rehearsals prepare the musicians for three public concerts held at Rice University's Stude Concert Hall each season. Rehearsals are enhanced by sectional coachings for each orchestra conducted by leading professional musicians from the Houston area with additional workshop and master class opportunities by visiting artists.