Mission & History

For more than forty years, GTCYS has transformed students and enriched the community.


In the conviction that music nourishes the body, mind, and spirit of the individual and enriches the community, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies provides a rigorous and inspiring orchestral experience for young musicians.

About Us

About UsGTCYS broadens access to orchestral music and reaches more than 16,000 children and adults through our core educational programs, free outreach activities and workshops, concerts, and special performances. Our programs provide an exceptional youth orchestra experience for young musicians of all ages and abilities, aiding in their development as young artists and adults. In our 2015-16 season, GTCYS will serve 900 students ages 8 to 18 from across the Twin Cities region through our eight academic-year orchestras and two summer programs. Under the direction of Artistic Director Mark Russell Smith, outstanding conductors, and coaches from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO) and Minnesota Orchestra, students benefit from GTCYS’ holistic approach to education and excellence. Dedicated to increasing access to music education, GTCYS will award $50,000 in need-based scholarships to students this season. We’re also committed to bringing music to diverse audiences and will present 24 concerts to more than 11,000 audience members through performances at Orchestra Hall and The Ordway and free community concerts at homeless shelters, schools, and care centers in the Twin Cities.


Founded in 1972, GTCYS (pronounced “GIT-seez”) was created to provide an educational orchestra program for motivated music students from throughout the metropolitan area and outlying communities. Since then, more than 16,000 students have honed their musical talents and developed lifelong skills that have helped them succeed not only as musicians, but as teachers, community leaders, doctors, lawyers, business professionals, and entrepreneurs.

HistoryGTCYS holds a treasured place in the Minnesota arts and cultural landscape, with students showcasing their talents through performances at prestigious concert halls and events as well as for underserved audiences. Artistic Director Mark Russell Smith joined GTCYS’ staff in 2012 and provides dynamic leadership and artistic oversight for our programs. GTCYS collaborates with world-class artists and organizations including guest conductors Osmo Vänskä, Roberto Abbado, and Nicholas McGegan and projects with the Minnesota Chorale. Renowned for our rich international touring history, GTCYS performed by invitation at the Granada International Festival of Music and Dance (Spain) in 2014 and will tour Argentina in June 2016.

In 2011, GTCYS and the SPCO formed a strategic partnership to serve the community through music and build classical music audiences.

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