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

2020-21 Season Information

The Akron Youth Symphony’s 2020-21 season will begin with online sessions that will include sectionals, instrument-specific workshops, master classes, small chamber groups, and larger meetings.

In addition to Maestro Eric Benjamin, AYS musicians will work with Akron Symphony Orchestra professional musicians and have additional opportunities to interact with ASO musicians throughout the season.

The youth symphony will meet on a rotating, regular basis during the opening months of the school year. Since it is likely that meetings will continue to be held virtually through 2020, Maestro Benjamin is also planning for an AYS compilation project involving musicians working together to create a virtual performance in lieu of a traditional live concert.

For more information

Contact Orzella Matherson at the Akron Symphony Office by email at omatherson@akronsymphony.org.


Auditions are open to all middle school and high school instrumental music students who study privately, actively participate in their school music program, and are able to commit to the rehearsal and concert schedule. There may be limitations or exemptions to this policy.  Auditions are heard by Akron Youth Symphony Music Director Eric Benjamin. Please note: These auditions are for the Akron Youth Symphony only. Students not accepted are eligible to audition in the Fall for the Akron Youth Philharmonic. 

Auditions are normally held each year in May, with time slots available each morning and afternoon. We will email a signup link to everyone who has submitted an application. 

Click here for a video interview about the audition process.

Auditions are held for middle and high school students who play one of the following instruments. View the requirements and excerpts by clicking on the instrument name:

In addition:

  • Written recommendations from your current private teacher and current school music director are not required, but are encouraged with your application.
  • 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.

If you have questions about the Akron Youth Symphony or the audition process, contact Orzella Matherson at the Akron Symphony Office by email at omatherson@akronsymphony.org.

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