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Mission & History


The New York Youth Symphony is one of the most awarded youth programs of its kind in the nation, recognized for its innovative, educational programs for talented young musicians.  Founded in 1963 as an orchestra to showcase the metropolitan area’s most gifted musicians ages 12-22, its activities have since grown to encompass programs in chamber music, conducting, composition, jazz, and musical theater songwriting with performances at world class venues including Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Through its commissioning program, First Music, the NYYS has commissioned over 170 works from young composers  since 1984.

The careers of world-renowned conductors, musicians, and composers have been assisted by their early experiences with the New York Youth Symphony.  Our former music directors and program alumni include Marin Alsop (Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Myung-Whun Chung (Tokyo Philharmonic), Pedro Diaz (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra), Lawrence Dutton (Emerson Quartet), Joshua Gersen (New York Philharmonic), Miguel Harth-Bedoya (Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra), Gary Levinson (Dallas Symphony), Cho-Liang Lin (Soloist; Rice University), David Alan Miller (Albany Symphony Orchestra), Kenneth Mirkin (New York Philharmonic), Leonard Slatkin (Detroit Symphony Orchestra), Joel Smirnoff (Juilliard String Quartet), Michael Tiscione (Atlanta Symphony), and Fred Zlotkin (NY City Ballet), among many others. 


To educate and inspire young musicians through exceptional ensemble training and performance opportunities.

Core Values

  • We value the excellence of our teaching and mentoring.
  • We encourage personal development, creativity, self-discipline, and working well with others.
  • No one is to be excluded on the basis of ability to pay.
  • We aspire to a culture of fairness and mutual respect.
  • We value performances in prominent venues.
  • We expect a strong commitment from all members of the NYYS community – musicians, teachers, staff, and Trustees.
  • We value the special relationship between our musicians and their audiences.
  • We strive to be an inclusive organization reflecting the diversity of, and actively reaching out to, the greater New York metropolitan community.