Youth Orchestras


The bay area is full of great youth orchestras- they range in cost, with scholarships usually available.  This is by no means a comprehensive list (!).

Youth orchestras can be one of the best possible experiences for intermediate to advanced string  students.  I highly recommend joining a youth orchestra once age and ability allow, please don’t hesitate to talk with me about what might be the best fit for the student!  The following are a selection of orchestras that rehearse and perform near the studio.

There are also two orchestras that I highly recommend in the Palo Alto area, though since that is quite a haul for most Alameda Violin students I’ll elaborate on request and not include them here.  They are the California Youth Symphony and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra– and if you’re up for a drive, I enthusiastically recommend the experience, especially if the Oakland or Berkeley orchestras don’t seem like a good fit.  Both orchestra organizations are composed of several individual orchestras which allow for more variance in ability and age.  Younger students can join and grow within the orchestra.

San Francisco Youth Orchestra

The most competitive orchestra in the bay area (and also free), this is certainly the orchestra to try and win a spot in.  One of the best youth orchestras in the nation, leadership (and often whole sections) in the orchestra include students from the San Francisco Conservatory and  high school students on their way to the top tier conservatories and music schools.  Auditions require excellent preparation and a high level of ability. Students must be under  20 years of age.  Rehearsals held at Davies Hall in the city.

Berkeley Youth Orchestra

Rehearsals take place at Laney College in Oakland, not far from Alameda Violin!  Auditions take place in June and sometimes August and January.  The orchestra is open to grades 5-10.  This orchestra can be a good first youth orchestra experience for older students as they have a wider array of ability in their membership.  Students should be able to rehearse for 3 hours at a time (with a break), and solid repertoire is performed,  so 3rd position is a must.

Oakland Youth Orchestra

Auditions take place in May and occasionally August.  Students are usually between 12-22 years old, however some younger students can gain a spot if they have the appropriate skills and concentration for rehearsals.  Rehearsals, as with the BYO, take place at Laney College.  Partly because  of the larger age span, this is a better orchestra for students who are able to learn standard orchestra repertoire, play in at least 3rd position, and focus well during rehearsals.

San Francisco Conservatory Preparatory Division Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Program

A fantastic option for chamber experience (quartets, trios) and for a chamber orchestra.  Excellent leadership.

Young Peoples Chamber Orchestra

Berkeley based, with a wide ability level acceptance.

Young People’s Symphony Orchestra

Berkeley based, grades 6th-college senior.  Auditions held in May and sometimes August.

Walnut creek area ensemble opportunities:

Varying ability and age levels, great for a first experience if you live in the area. Intermediate and advanced students will want to make the trek to Oakland, Berkeley, or the city.

More opportunities here