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The New York Youth Symphony's Composition Program, offers student composers the opportunity to explore the world of composition and orchestration through seminars, individual tutorials, and workshops, plus reading sessions with professional musicians, and performances. Led by Director Dr. Kyle Blaha, the seminars explore the musical thought of a wide variety of composers, with a focus on instrumentation and orchestration. Examples are drawn from the vast classical repertoire and a range of musical traditions from throughout the world. Using tools such as study scores and orchestration books, the course aims to cultivate the students' own voices through class discussion, written exercises, and free composition. 

Distinguished composers visit sessions throughout the season, offering students an inside look at the creative process. Recent guests have included Angélica Negrón, Caroline Shaw, Du Yun, Christopher Rouse, John Harbison, Julia Wolfe, Melinda Wagner, John Corigliano, Maria Schneider, Stephen Sondheim, and Michael Torke. Click here to see a complete list of past guest composers.

Special thanks to ASCAP for their continued support of the Composition Program by hosting our composer workshop sessions, and to BMI for hosting the tutorials.

Practical Opportunities

Each year, students compose new works for ensembles including string quartets, woodwind quintets, percussion trios, and more. Students then have opportunities to work directly with professional musicians to have these compositions workshopped, recorded, and performed. Previous guest musicians have included harpist Bridget Kibbey, organist Ryan Jackson, Attacca Quartet, amongst others.

Orchestration Reading is an opportunity for students to compose original works for chamber orchestra, read by DeCoda, performing side-by-side with the principal musicians of the NYYS Orchestra. Following the reading of each piece, conducted by NYYS Music Director Michael Repper, students receive feedback from a mentor composer. Composer Aaron J. Kernis is the mentor composer for the 2017/2018 reading session. 

Sessions and Performances


The Composition Program generally meets weekly from October to May on Thursdays between 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm at various locations in NYC. A full schedule of sessions will be available upon acceptance to the 2019/2020 Composition Program.

Students' works are read and workshopped throughout the season, culminating in a final performance by members of the NYYS Orchestra, Chamber Music, Jazz, and Apprentice Conducting programs at the annual Composition Date concert in May 2020.

Guest Lecturers

Please check back for a list of 2019/2020 guest lecturers.

Recent guest lecturers include:


Entrance to the program is determined through personal interview with the Directors each September. Applications for the 2019/2020 season are closed. Please check back in June, 2020 for the 2020/2021 season application.

Note: Prospective applicants are urged to review the Musician Guidelines and check for scheduling conflicts before applying for an audition.

Composition Staff