The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization is the Tri-State region’s premier youth orchestra for gifted, young, classical musicians and one of the oldest and most highly regarded youth orchestra organizations in the United States. For more than 72 years, the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization has been providing professional-caliber musical experiences to young instrumentalists, thrilling discriminating audiences in the Greater Philadelphia region and across the globe. The organization has five ensembles: Philadelphia Youth Orchestra (PYO), Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra (PYAO), Bravo Brass, Philadelphia Region Youth String Music (PRYSM) and Tune Up Philly, an after-school program modeled after Venezuela’s El Sistema. The five ensembles present a full season of concerts each year.
Ranging in age from 6 through 21 years, the student musicians of Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization are selected by competitive audition and come from a seventy-plus-mile radius of Philadelphia encompassing nearly 20 counties within Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Through advanced orchestra repertoire, students are challenged to perform at professional levels, to strive for advanced musicianship and to achieve superior technical, musical and personal application. Thousands of alumni who have participated in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization are leaders in their fields and pillars of their communities. Former PYO musicians currently hold chairs in most of the top twenty professional orchestras in the United States, with 15 PYO alumni currently serving in The Philadelphia Orchestra. Recent alumni credit the PYO organization in helping them gain admittance to some of the best universities, colleges, and conservatories in the United States.
The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra, the organization’s flagship ensemble, is credited as one of the best in the nation with more than 100 highly skilled, young classical musicians in the region. It’s unmatched repertoire and concerts in Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts make this youth orchestra incomparable. The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra has performed in more than twenty countries on five continents. Fourteen international concert tours since 1981 have offered hundreds of talented young musicians the opportunity to perform in many of the world’s great concert halls, where their performances have often been judged comparable to those of professional orchestras. The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra was established in 1939 and is led by PYO organization President and Music Director, Maestro Louis Scaglione.
The Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra is PYO’s sister orchestra and one of the premiere youth orchestras in the greater Philadelphia region. It offers symphonic experience and orchestral training to younger classical music students, linking repertoire and theory and providing the context to learning the standard orchestral repertoire. The PYAO performs each season at such distinguished venues as The Perelman Theater in The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and The Union League of Philadelphia. For more than a decade, the PYAO has raised money through performances to support philanthropic organizations like Reach Out and Read at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Youth Work Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia. PYAO was established in 1996 under a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and is conducted by Maestro Geoff McDonald.
Bravo Brass is the brass-only large ensemble of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization, created in 1996 to provide advanced musical education and performance opportunities to talented high-school brass students in the Tri-State region. It is the only ensemble of its kind in the area and one of few in the country. Bravo Brass offers repertoire that challenges advanced brass students to improve their individual and ensemble playing skills. The Bravo Brass teaching faculty, led by Maestro Paul Bryan, Associate Dean of The Curtis Institute, provides valuable musical training through side-by-side rehearsals. The ensemble performs multiple concerts each season at venues such as St. Mark’s Church in Philadelphia.
PRYSM (Philadelphia Region Youth String Music) is a string music education program created in 2007 to offer a unique introduction and preparation for string students to acquire and build skills. PRYSM and PRYSM Young Artists are a comprehensive system providing string ensemble and sectional master class instruction for beginning and intermediate students. The students are taught in weekly small group sectional rehearsals and then in the full string orchestra. An emphasis is placed on basic string technique and musical refinement accompanied with problem solving and team building skills. Side-by-side coaching by the professional faculty in rehearsals and concerts provides guidance and builds confidence. Graduates of PRYSM have matriculated successfully into other PYO organization ensembles. The program was co-founded with the late William dePasquale, former co-concertmaster for The Philadelphia Orchestra, and is directed by Gloria dePasquale, current cellist for and member of the board of directors and executive board of The Philadelphia Orchestra.
Tune Up Philly’s mission is to nurture children economically disadvantaged and vulnerable neighborhoods by keeping them engaged in success through weekday out-of-school hours music instruction. The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization believes that music education is a powerful vehicle for children to master skills and acquire valuable tools for cooperative learning, teamwork, academic success and to build self-esteem. PYO’s Tune Up Philly is a vehicle for children to develop social skills to benefit their full life. The first year of the program, launched in 2010, was held at St. Francis de Sales School in southwest Philadelphia. The second year of the program commenced in October 2011 at the People for People Charter School in North Philadelphia, part of the School District of Philadelphia. The program is lead by Delia Raab-Snyder with several professional teaching artists.
PYO Organization Leadership: The 2012/2013 Season is Maestro Louis Scaglione’s 16th anniversary with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization. He was appointed the PYO organization’s Music Director in 2005, joined the artistic staff in 1997 as Conductor of the PYAO and was appointed Associate Conductor of PYO in 1999. In addition to his work as a member of the artistic staff, Maestro Scaglione was appointed President of the PYO organization in 2004, having served as the program’s Executive Director for three years. Extraordinary artistic leadership is a hallmark of the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization. Adolph Sorian (1940–1941), J.W.F. Leman (1941–1952), William R. Smith (1952–1954), and Joseph Primavera (1954–2005) served as Music Directors, with Maestro Primavera having had the extraordinary distinction of being the longest-serving active conductor of any orchestra in the world.
Rehearsal Schedule and Locations: The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra Center, located in historic Saint Patrick Hall at 20th and Locust streets in Philadelphia, hosts open rehearsals for the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.; the Philadelphia Young Artists Orchestra on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; and Bravo Brass on Mondays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. . PRYSM rehearsals are held at Bryn Mawr College on Friday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tune Up Philly rehearsals are held Monday through Friday at the People for People Charter school.
Give to PYO: The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra organization is a non-profit which relies on the generous support of donors and foundations. If you would like to make a contribution, please visit our donation page.
Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
P.O. Box 41810
Philadelphia, PA 19101-1810
Office: 215 545 0502