The Huntsville Youth Orchestra (HYO) nurtures the musical, social and educational development of young musicians from the Tennessee Valley in an orchestral setting. HYO is dedicated to providing children and youth with a fun, musical experience and benefits/rewards that will last a lifetime. The programs instill cooperation, discipline and patience, developing young musicians into appreciative listeners and participants. Founded in 1961, HYO has three orchestras for auditioned students and four smaller groups for novice to intermediate level strings from elementary to high school aged youth. Chamber ensembles for seasoned players are available to play for private and public events. Under the direction of seven conductors, the orchestras of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra perform in a variety of settings, which include scheduled fall, winter and spring concerts, holiday and special performances. HYO also hosts the Tennessee Valley Music Festival each summer. Further information is available from the HYO Office: 256.880.0622.
Our Orchestras, Ensembles and Programs.
Goals. The Huntsville Youth Orchestra (HYO) is dedicated to providing children and youth with a fun, musical experience and benefits/rewards that will last a lifetime. The program instills cooperation, discipline and patience, developing young musicians into appreciative listeners and participants. The HYO was founded in 1961 by Russell Gerhart, founding conductor of the Huntsville Symphony, to provide a quality musical experience and pre-professional training through the performances of great symphonic literature. Students that participate in the HYO are expected to work hard and come to rehearsals prepared. In doing so, students develop great pride in their accomplishments while they continue to expand their love of great music. Eligibility. Elementary through high school age youth who play an orchestral instrument and can read music are eligible to participate. With the exception of Novice Strings, which accepts beginners, students must participate in their school program or be enrolled in private lessons. Call the HYO office at 256-880-0622 for information. Auditions. Six different orchestral ensembles are offered to accommodate all levels of experience. Only the Huntsville Youth Symphony, Sinfonia and Philharmonia orchestras require auditions.
Huntsville Youth Symphony. The Huntsville Youth Symphony (HYS) is an advanced full orchestra open by audition to accomplished string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students from across the Tennessee Valley. The HYS is the premiere performing ensemble of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra and among the finest youth orchestras in the Southeast. The HYS performs frequently in a broad variety of concert settings. This orchestra rehearses Monday evenings.
Sinfonia. The Sinfonia is an intermediate full orchestra open by audition to accomplished string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students from throughout the Tennessee Valley. String players wishing to audition for Sinfonia should be performing repertoire at the Suzuki Book 6 level (or equivalent), and should be enrolled in private lessons. Woodwind, brass and percussion students interested in auditioning for Sinfonia must possess strong music reading skills. The Sinfonia performs frequently in a wide variety of concert settings. This orchestra rehearses on Monday evenings.
Philharmonia. The Philharmonia is an intermediate full orchestra open by audition to accomplished string students and wind and percussion students with at least one year of playing experience. String players wishing to audition for Philharmonia should be performing repertoire at the Suzuki Book 3-4 level (or equivalent), possess intermediate music reading skills, and should be enrolled in private lessons. This orchestra rehearses on Tuesday evenings at First Baptist Church from 5:45-7:15. Students are asked to bring their own music stands to rehearsals. For performances, females wear white long sleeved blouses and long black skirts with black shoes and hose, and males wear white dress shirts with black pants and black shoes and socks. Bowties and cummerbunds are furnished by the HYO for concerts. Philharmonia is conducted by Susan Mullen.
Concert Orchestra. The Concert Orchestra is an intermediate level string orchestra for young string players with at least two years of experience. Concert Orchestra students continue to explore and develop skills and techniques essential for orchestral playing. This orchestra is designed to be a 2-4 year course. Students wishing to participate should be in Suzuki Book 3 level (or equivalent), and possess intermediate music reading skills. This orchestra rehearses on Tuesday evenings.
Intermezzo Orchestra. The Intermezzo Orchestra is an elementary level string orchestra for young string players with at least one year of experience. Intermezzo Orchestra students begin to explore and develop skills and techniques essential to orchestral playing. Students who wish to participate should be studying from the second half of Suzuki book 1 or Book 2 level (or equivalent), and possess elementary music reading skills. This orchestra rehearses on Tuesday evenings.
Novice Strings. The Novice Strings program is a beginning level course, and open to children with little to NO experience. Novice Strings focuses on the development of elementary techniques, note reading, and the art of string playing. Students are enrolled for the entire year at the beginning of Fall semester only. Students may be admitted later in the academic year at the discretion of the instructor. Novice Strings rehearses at First Baptist Church (Huntsville) on Tuesday evenings from 5:00-6:00 and at Randolph after school on Wednesdays for students attending that school. Students are asked to bring their own music stands to rehearsals. For concert dress for performances, please check with the conductor. Instrument choices and rental will be discussed at the first rehearsal, and students will begin playing their instruments the following week. Novice Strings is conducted by Bethany Wing.
Chamber Ensembles. Members of the Youth Symphony and Sinfonia may participate in chamber music rehearsals and coaching while building camaraderie and advanced musicianship skills. Ensembles may perform at chamber concerts and community events.
Performances. The orchestras of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra perform in a wide variety of settings, which may include scheduled Fall, Winter and Spring concerts, holiday performances, Panoply, community collaborations and engagements, and other special events. All orchestras perform at the Spring Concert in May.
Other HYO Activities. Annual Marjorie Smith Concerto Competition, Gerhart Scholarship Competition, Alabama All-State Orchestra Festival, Music Educator of the Year Award, Tennessee Valley Music Festival.