Challenging. Transformative. High quality. Accessible. Welcoming. Community-driven. Student-focused.

OrchestrasThe Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (GTCYS, pronounced git-seez) embodies a holistic approach to music instruction founded on excellence and personal growth in a supportive environment. By focusing on the educational process while upholding rigorous and inspiring standards of excellence, students develop lifelong musical, social, and leadership skills which help position them for success and find meaning in school and beyond. GTCYS serves musicians of all ages and abilities, from beginning to pre-professional, ages 8 to 18. Year-round opportunities provide challenging and accessible entry points, and we provide need-based scholarships to support interested students regardless of financial constraints.

Academic-Year Orchestras

GTCYS’ eight academic-year orchestras provide a rigorous and inspiring orchestral learning community for more than 700 beginning to pre-professional string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students each year. Students must audition annually and are placed by ability in our orchestras which range from beginning to pre-professional. Every orchestra has weekly rehearsals, four to seven annual performances, including two at Orchestra Hall, two day retreats, sectionals with professional musicians, social activities, and leadership opportunities like mentoring and service projects. The orchestras, listed in progressive order, are:

Audition components include a short solo, scales, and sight reading, plus orchestral excerpts for advanced students. Click here to learn more about auditions.


Last year, GTCYS launched the Harmony program, which provides after school violin instruction two days a week with 18 third graders at Riverview Elementary School on St. Paul’s West Side. The program provides instruments, group lessons, performance opportunities, mentoring by older GTCYS students, and transportation home after each session. This season, the program will double in size to serve 40 third and fourth graders three days a week instead of two. The addition of semi-private lessons (3-4 youth per teaching artist) will boost students’ progress, and four performances will provide incentive to excel.

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Summer Orchestras

Whether you’re a first-time orchestra student or an advanced player, there’s a place for you in one of GTCYS’ three Summer Orchestras which inspire string, woodwind, brass, and percussion students.


String Orchestra Camp

Budding young string students play in a string orchestra during this fun, week-long day camp where they’ll learn through energizing rehearsals, sectionals with professional coaches, fun social opportunities, field trips, and special music activities.



Touring empowers students with musical, social, and cultural opportunities that will shape their lives for years to come. With a rich touring history and future tours in the works, including Symphony’s 2018 Germany, Poland, and Hungary Tour, GTCYS will carry on the touring legacy.


Get the Backstage Experience!

Be our guest! Treat the family to a special night out to learn more about what you can expect from GTCYS.

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