Akron Youth Symphony - Akron Symphony Orchestra

Akron Youth Symphony

About the Akron Youth Symphony

The Akron Youth Symphony is one of the finest youth orchestras in Ohio and is the flagship ensemble of the Akron Youth Orchestra program. The Akron Youth Symphony provides an outstanding pre-professional educational experience for advanced music students.

The Youth Symphony is geared toward high school students, but is open to all qualified middle and high school students. Members generally range from ages 13 to 18 and represent numerous schools, cities and counties in Northeastern Ohio. Musicians include homeschooled students, as well as those who attend public, private and parochial schools. All members participate in their respective school ensembles, and also take private music instruction.

Musicians rehearse weekly under professional direction and receive regular coaching from Akron Symphony Orchestra musicians. Youth Symphony members also may have other opportunities available to them, including the annual concerto competition, chamber music groups and master classes.

The Akron Youth Symphony gives back to the community by performing at special events and mentoring our sister organization, Akron Youth Philharmonic, in Side-By-Side concerts. The most valuable part of the experience is the process of high-caliber concerts in a supportive and energized environment.

The Akron Youth Symphony is under the direction of Eric Benjamin, Associate Conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra.

2023-24 Season Information

AYS musicians will gather weekly to participate in large ensemble rehearsals, smaller sectionals, and instrument-specific workshops. Guest artists may also present master classes, facilitate small chamber groups, or share other topics of interest.

The AYS will have the opportunity to work with Akron Symphony Orchestra professional musicians, including coaching sessions and other interactions with the ASO musicians throughout the season. Visiting guest artists may also present master classes, facilitate small chamber groups, or share other topics of interest with the Akron Youth Symphony.

The season runs from September to May, with most rehearsals on Sunday afternoons. The Akron Youth Symphony performs at least four full concerts each season, in addition to participating in other special events.

All performances are at 3 pm, unless otherwise specified and all concerts will be held at Guzzetta Recital Hall, The University of Akron, 139 E. Buchtel Ave, Akron.

  • Akron Youth Symphony Fall Concert on Sunday, November 12, 2023
  • Akron Youth Orchestras’ Winter Concert on Sunday, January 21, 2024
  • Akron Youth Orchestras’ Side-By-Side Concert on Saturday, March 16, 2024
  • Akron Youth Symphony Spring Concert on Sunday, May 19, 2024
AYS Concerts at Guzzetta Hall are free, but donations will be gratefully accepted. Performances at any other locations may require an admission fee.

Auditions are open to all middle school and high school instrumental musicians who play one of the instruments listed below, study privately, actively participate in their school music program, and can commit to the rehearsal and concert schedule.

Students who are homeschooled or attend a school that does not have a music program available to them may be exempt from the School Participation policy.

All auditions are live, in-person, and heard by the AYS Music Director Eric Benjamin. Students may audition at any time.

Students not accepted into AYS are eligible to audition in the Fall for the Akron Youth Philharmonic (AYP) at no additional cost.

View the requirements and excerpts by clicking on the instrument name*:
*For all players, please prepare major and minor scales from C Major/a Minor through three flats and three sharps.

Please note that audition excerpts have been updated for violin, cello, oboe, clarinet and piano. Applicants who have prepared the previous excerpts should simply let the staff know when arriving for the auditions.  

In addition:

  • Written recommendations from your current private teacher and current school music director are not required but are encouraged with the application of a new member. (No resumes or recommendations from family members, please).
  • A non-refundable $25 audition fee must be submitted with the audition application.
  • Auditions are private and not open to the public.
  • No accompaniment, please.
  • Copies of orchestral excerpts are available for your use. It is strongly recommended that you listen to recordings of the orchestral works while preparing the excerpts.
  • Students not accepted to AYS may audition for the Akron Youth Philharmonic in September.

Once the audition application and fee are received, applicants will receive an email with further information about audition times and dates.

Application form, the $25 non-refundable application fee and the optional written recommendations are due before your audition will be scheduled. Please fill out the application and pay online (a handling fee applies) by following this link.

If you have questions about the Akron Youth Symphony or the audition process, please email Orzella Matherson or Sharon Smith at the Akron Symphony Office.

Click here for a video interview about the audition process.