/ BYSO Through the Years


Today BYSO serves over 600 children throughout New England, and is recognized as one of the finest youth orchestras in the country. The timeline below highlights some of the most memorable moments in the history of BYSO.

Dr. Robert Choate of Boston University leads the effort to establish a youth orchestra for junior and senior high school aged musicians. Marvin Rabin is appointed Music Director, and the orchestra’s debut concert takes place at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall.

BYSO (formerly known as The Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra or GBYSO) performs at the White House and at Carnegie Hall.

A second full orchestra is established due to the demand created by the number of auditioning students; now known as the Repertory Orchestra, this group was originally called the Greater Boston Junior Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Junior and Senior orchestras perform works by Bach, Brahms, Sibelius and others for the first time at Symphony Hall. Dr. Artin Arslanian is appointed Music Director.

GBYSO earns top honors at the first International Festival of Youth Orchestras in St. Moritz, Switzerland on its first international tour.

GBYSO is the first foreign youth orchestra to perform at the prestigious Israel Festival of Music and Drama.

GBYSO performs at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and later tours England, Scotland, and Wales.

GBYSO travels to Colombia to perform in Bogota and Medellin (Boston’s sister city).

Members of the orchestras share music stands with Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) musicians in five Youth Concert performances of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture under the direction of Harry Ellis Dickson at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

GBYSO returns to Colombia by popular demand.

GBYSO participates in an exchange with the Düsseldorf Youth Symphony Orchestra and tours West Germany and Belgium. Leonard Atherton is appointed Music Director.

GBYSO tours Montreal; the trip includes a joint concert with the Montreal Youth Orchestra. Eiji Oue is appointed Music Director. The organization’s highest-level orchestra becomes informally known as the Senior Orchestra.

Silver Anniversary celebrations include the commission and premiere of The GBYSO Music by Theodore Antoniou and a tour of France. GBYSO becomes an independent non-profit organization.

The Senior Orchestra’s tour of Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Austria includes a performance in Budapest for the International Congress of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, as well as an appearance at the Dubrovnik Music Festival.

Leonard Bernstein and Seiji Ozawa serve as honorary chairs of the Senior Orchestra’s tour of Japan. The Senior Orchestra commissions and performs the world premiere of The Gesar Legend by Peter Lieberson for five soloists. The soloists are Sato Knudson, Ronan Lefkowitz, Richard Sebring, Fenwick Smith, and Larry Wolfe, all BYSO alumni in the BSO.

David Commanday appointed Music Director.

The Junior Repertory Orchestra (JRO) is established.

The Senior Orchestra tours Central Europe. After the tour, the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) presents the BYSO a special award given in recognition of the programming of American music on foreign tours. The Senior Orchestra performs Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 at Symphony Hall in a special Benefit Concert for the Children’s AIDS Program. The concert is named the Best Concert of the Year by an orchestra other than the BSO by the Boston Globe.

The Senior and Repertory Orchestras undertake an exchange with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. The trip to Illinois features a performance at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall.

The Senior Orchestra tours Finland and Sweden. The Repertory Orchestra travels to Minnesota on its first solo tour; the trip is part of an exchange with the Minnesota Youth Symphonies.

Violinist Lynn Chang and cellist Yo-Yo Ma join the Senior Orchestra for the world premiere of Ivan Tcherepnin’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra, a work commissioned by the BYSO. The Preparatory String Orchestra, now known as the Young People’s String Orchestra (YPSO), is established.

Ivan Tcherepnin’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Orchestra wins the highly coveted University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition; BYSO was the first youth orchestra organization to be affiliated with this prestigious award. The Senior Orchestra tours Italy with a featured performance at the world renowned Ravenna Festival.

Named by National Public Radio’s Performance Today as one of the nation’s five best youth orchestras.

Celebrates its 40th Anniversary. The Senior Orchestra travels to England and Ireland for a six-concert tour.

Ranked #1 out of 45 applicants by The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC). The Senior Orchestra performs at Seiji Ozawa’s Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Celebration with the BSO on the Boston Common. Federico Cortese is appointed the Music Director.

The Senior Orchestra tours France. Both the Senior and Repertory Orchestras perform at Symphony Hall during the venue’s Centennial Celebration. The Senior Orchestra participates in an exchange with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.

First time collaboration with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the official chorus of the BSO. The Senior Orchestra tours the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary.

Awarded the prestigious Commonwealth Award in the education category by the MCC, given every two years as the state’s highest recognition for individuals and organizations in the arts, humanities, and interpretive sciences. The Senior Orchestra tours California.

The Senior Orchestra tours Estonia, Latvia, and Russia, and performs at St. Petersburg’s renowned Shostakovich Hall.

The Senior Orchestra tours Spain and Portugal and takes part in the prestigious Granada Festival. The Preparatory Wind Ensemble (PWE) is established.

The Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (GBYSO) officially changes its name to the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras (BYSO). The Senior Orchestra becomes known as the Boston Youth Symphony (BYS).

BYSO celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season with a sold-out gala featuring Yo-Yo Ma at Symphony Hall. BYS performs the world premiere of Evening Prayer written by alumnus Robert Beaser. BYSO’s Intensive Community Program celebrates its 10th Anniversary.

BYSO announces a new collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) to co-present the 3-concert BSO’s Youth & Family Subscription Series. BYSO also begins successful partnership with the United Way allowing hundreds of young people access to BYSO concerts each year.

In 2012 Boston Symphony Orchestra and BYSO formed an important new partnership for classical music in Boston; BYSO/BSO: Partnering for the Future. This collaboration is designed to develop training programs and to offer joint performance opportunities for young musicians, audiences, and the wider community, while exploring innovative ways to continue to foster the future of classical music.

BYSO and BSO Collaborate to present first family opera- Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

BYSO Partnered with the Dennis C. Haley Pilot School, a Boston Public School located in Roslindale. ICP director Nicole Cariglia and other BYSO coaches worked to implement ICP’s string program in the school’s kindergarten class.

The first “BYSO on Parade,” a one-day event at Symphony Hall, featured performances by all of BYSO’s ensembles, totally nearly 500 musicians.

Earlier this year BYSO performs another season of two operas: Rossini’s Cinderella – a family opera in collaboration with the BSO, and Verdi’s Otello, which marked BYSO’s highest grossing revenue in the history of BYSO’s annual semi-staged opera productions.

BYSO announces a new collaboration with the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) to co-present the 3-concert BSO’s Youth & Family Subscription Series. BYSO also begins successful partnership with the United Way allowing hundreds of young people access to BYSO concerts each year.

The Intensive Community Program, a strings training program since its inception in 1998, expanded to include wind and brass instruments during the 2016-17 season.

BYSO celebrating its 60th Anniversary Season. An important cultural exchange between BYSO and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Youth Choir and the Leipzig Opera Youth Chorus. The two youth choirs traveled to Boston in April of 2018 to perform with BYSO at their 60th Anniversary concert at Symphony Hall. BYSO traveled to Leipzig, Germany in June of 2018 to perform at Bachfest, the world’s foremost annual festival focusing on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries. Performances in Germany were held at the Leipzig Market Place, the prestigious Gewandhaus concert hall, and Altenburg Castle.

BYSO’s Intensive Community Program’s 20th Anniversary- Celebrating 20 years of diversifying the future of classical music. ICP performs celebratory concert at Faneuil Hall with all ICP students.
First class of ICP Winds students begin with BYSO.

Federico Cortese marks 20 years as Music Director.

During its completely online season, “BYSO Connects,” BYSO creates videos of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, and a video tribute to MLK, Jr.