The finest student musicians in the region come together for professional repertoire, thrilling performance opportunities, international tours, and lifelong friendships.


Led by professional conductor and educator Mark Russell Smith, Symphony is GTCYS’ flagship orchestra which masters major repertoire, including full symphonic works, in a supportive and conservatory-like setting. With its own concert series and professional style performance opportunities, Symphony attracts the best young musicians in the region. String players in Symphony have an average of 7 to 12 years of experience and winds/brass/percussion students have typically been playing their instruments for 5 to 8 years. Special artistic projects, sectionals, retreats, social activities, and extra opportunities provide a well-rounded and transformative experience which develops students’ musical, leadership, and lifelong skills.


Symphony rehearses on Mondays (September 21, 2020 through May 30, 2021) in four cohorts. Cohorts A and C rehearse 6:00-7:15pm, and Cohorts B and D rehearse 8:00-9:15pm, at Saint Paul RiverCentre, 175 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul.

Listen Now

Symphony performed at the GTCYS Spring Festival at Orchestra Hall on Sunday, May 5, 2015. Listen to a sample of their live performance at that concert of Romeo and Juliet Fantasy-Overture by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky here. Interested in purchasing the full performance? Click here to purchase CDs and MP3s!


Symphony performs professional repertoire, including a complete symphony every season and works by living composers. Highlights of Symphony’s fall 2019 repertoire include:

      • Symphony No. 1 in C minor by Johannes Brahms
      • La Forza del Destino Overture by Giuseppe Verdi


GTCYS commits to providing an inspiring and comprehensive musical experience to transform students musically, personally, and socially. This means engaging the best conductors and sectional coaches, carefully curating musical selections for the best educational experience, performing in high quality venues, sharing music with diverse audiences, providing clear and consistent communications, promoting a welcoming and supportive environment, and putting students first.

In return, we ask students and parents for their commitment:

  • Pay annual tuition and retreat fees: $1,055 full-year tuition, plus $50 retreat fee. Need-based scholarships are available, see below.
    • Note: tuition represents half the actual cost to participate and the remainder is subsidized by tax-deductible contributions. GTCYS does NOT ask families to participate in door-to-door fundraising activities.
  • Practice GTCYS music 10 minutes daily and come prepared to rehearsals; see the Attendance Policy for details.
  • Honor the attendance policy and abide by the student code of conduct; see Musician’s Handbook for details.


GTCYS serves all interested, dedicated students, regardless of financial constraints by providing $100,000 in need-based scholarships annually. Click here to learn more about scholarships »


Every student must audition annually for membership in GTCYS. Auditions include a short solo and memorized scales. Students interested being considered for Symphony must also prepare specified orchestral excerpts. Previous participation does not guarantee placement.


International Tours

International Symphony tours every other year provide unparalleled performance opportunities, enriching cultural experiences, and lifelong friendships. The June 2018 tour took students on an unforgettable twelve-day journey through Germany, Poland and Hungary. Click here to read more about the Eastern Europe Tour and GTCYS’ touring history. 2021 will take Symphony students to Southern Italy and the island of Sicily. Click here for more details.

Extra Opportunities for Symphony Students

Student Mentorship Program: Symphony and Philharmonic musicians have the opportunity to inspire GTCYS’ younger students and gain valuable mentor experience by playing side by side with them in rehearsals. Training provided! Click here for details about the 2019-20 Student Mentorship program and to apply.

GTCYS Ambassadors: Students gain valuable communication and advocacy skills by sharing a 5-minute presentation about their GTCYS experience with their school band or orchestra. Training provided! Click here for more information about the GTCYS Ambassadors program and to apply.

Leadership Opportunities: Develop leadership skills and build service hours for your college resume as an audition volunteer, student speaker, donor liaison, and other volunteer positions. Learn more and apply for volunteer leadership opportunities here.

For information about getting involved, contact miranda@gtcys.org or call 651.602.6807.

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