Since its inception in 1958 at Boston University, the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO) continues to achieve the highest artistic standards, and remains committed to musical excellence. Today BYSO is widely regarded as one of the country's finest youth orchestras and is recognized nationally as a model music and arts education organization. BYSO Philosophy
Federico Cortese assumed the post of Music Director in 1999 and is the conductor of the BYSO's most accomplished ensemble, the Boston Youth Symphony. During his tenure, Mr. Cortese has instituted several significant initiatives that have advanced the organization artistically. Today, BYSO has the largest operating budget of any youth orchestra in the United States, nearly double that of most youth orchestras, which reflects the organization's programmatic scope, growth, and commitment to excellence.
Music Director Federico Cortese conducts at Symphony Hall. Photo by Michael J. Lutch.
In the past eleven years, BYSO has enhanced its professional coaching staff by including several members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as sectional coaches, and has also achieved more consistency in its weekly professional coaching staff. In addition, nine new artistic staff positions have been created to act as coordinators for the major sections of the orchestra. These musicians monitor the progress of their sections, offering assistance and guidance when needed.
In addition to participating in full orchestra rehearsals and performances, all students in the the Boston Youth Symphony (BYS) and the Repertory Orchestra (REP) -- the organization's most advanced orchestras -- perform in a chamber orchestra. These four ensembles focus on performing music from the Classical period, allowing students a unique opportunity to master the difficult stylistic nuances of this period. Since 2001, Boston Youth Symphony chamber orchestras have collaborated with singers from Chorus pro Musica and Boston University's College of Fine Arts Opera Institute Program to perform selections from Mozart operas, including Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, La clemenza di Tito, and Cosi fan tutte.
In 2008 the BYS students performed their first full, semi-staged opera: Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. In 2009 they repeated the accomplishment by performing Le nozze di Figaro and most recently in 2010 performed Mozart's Don Giovanni. BYSO is the only youth orchestra in the nation to perform consecutive, full operas.
BYSO Mozart to Mahler
To prepare for the season, BYSO sponsors a Summer Camp for BYS, REP, JRO at New England Music Camp (NEMC) in Sydney, Maine. Since the summer of 2006, the Boston Youth Symphony experience at NEMC has been expanded from one to two weeks. As a result of this extended commitment at camp, the Senior Orchestra's concert schedule was expanded to include five full programs of repertoire, the most extensive concert schedule of any youth orchestra in the United States.
International touring has always been an important part of the Boston Youth Symphony experience. Under the leadership of Mr. Cortese, the Boston Youth Symphony traveled to France in 2000, Prague, Poland, and Hungary in 2002, to Estonia, Latvia and Russia in 2004, and to Spain and Portugal in 2006. For the 50th anniversary in 2007-2008, the Boston Youth Symphony traveled to Germany and the Czech Republic on its 19th international tour. The Orchestra was invited to perform at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, which is internationally recognized as one of the most celebrated concert halls for classical music in the world. BYS toured the UK in Summer 2010 performing at the Chichester Festival and at Oxford Town Hall.
BYSO Touring the World
The students in the premier ensemble, the Boston Youth Symphony, perform at Leipzig's Gewandhaus in June 2008 as part of that venue's international youth series. Photo courtesy of the Havards.
To conclude its 50th anniversary, Robert Beaser, Professor and Chairman of the Composition Department of the Juilliard School and BYSO alumnus, was commissioned to write a symphonic work for the Boston Youth Symphony. This world premiere by Mr. Beaser was performed on June 15, 2008, the culmination of the 50th Anniversary season, and the beginning of the second half century of the history of the organization.
Starting with the 2002-2003 season, wind, brass and percussion players were added to the JRO to become a full symphonic orchestra, which up until this time had been a string ensemble. In addition, sight singing and ear training lessons were introduced for all JRO musicians to create a solid musical foundation for students as they move up through the orchestras.
Beginning in the 2006-2007 season, the Preparatory String Orchestra became known as the Young People’s String Orchestra (YPSO), to reflect more accurately the advanced nature of BYSO's youngest string ensemble. YPSO has become known as one of the finest children's orchestras in the New England area.
A Preparatory Wind Ensemble (PWE) was created in 2006 to teach young wind players the fundamental skills necessary for successful orchestral playing. Members of PWE develop basic techniques for ensemble participation, which will help prepare them for future orchestra membership. Beginning in the 51st season, the group is called Preparatory Winds (PW).
The Intensive Community Program (ICP), a rigorous string training outreach program for underrepresented youth, has grown dramatically in the last eleven years. Currently, there are 75 students in ICP, including 15 new young recruits. For the past eleven years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has supported ICP. NEA panelists have praised the high artistic quality and teaching methods of ICP, calling it a model music training program for underserved youth.
BYSO Intensive Community Program
Students perform at a Symphony Hall concert. Photo by Michael J. Lutch.
To support this tremendous artistic expansion, BYSO has also experienced significant administrative growth during the past eleven years. BYSO has balanced its budget within 1% for the last twenty years, while the endowment has increased 190% during a similar period with plans for further expansion.
BYSO continues to be recognized for its artistic achievements by preeminent institutions at the state and the national level. The Massachusetts Cultural Council awarded BYSO the prestigious Commonwealth Award in the education category, the state's highest recognition for the arts and humanities. BYSO has also received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the E. Nakamichi Foundation, which supports the finest professional orchestras in the world.
We invite you to be part of the musical legacy and future plans that continue to make BYSO one of the finest cultural institutions in Boston and the nation.