The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras (PYSO) have continually offered robust musical training and personal development for young musicians throughout the San Gabriel Valley for more than 40 years. Each year, more than 300 students from 50 different schools audition to be a part of this prestigious program designed specifically for students between the ages of 11 and 18. As part of the Pasadena Symphony Association, the PYSO fosters dedication, excellence, fellowship, and passion in the development of those who are not only outstanding young musicians, but outstanding young individuals.
PYSO has performed throughout the world, including venues in Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and many others. The PYSO has also appeared in concert with the United States Air Force Academy Band – Blue Steel – at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Members of PYSO have also experienced opportunities to play additional performances outside the full orchestra program, such as chamber music at Pasadena Symphony concerts, and special guest appearances on Fox’s TV sensation, “Glee.” PYSO falls under the auspices of the Pasadena Symphony Association, and students often interact with Pasadena Symphony and POPS conductors, guest artists, musicians, and staff.
PYSO is comprised of four challenging and rigorous ensembles. The String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble are specialty groups that enhance young musicians’ ensemble playing skills, and offer multiple performance opportunities. The Symphony is comprised of wind, brass, percussion, and string players, and performs arrangements and original scores appropriate for intermediate level students. In May of 2013, the PYSO added another ensemble, the PYSO Philharmonic, further extending the program to include advanced students who perform major symphonic repertoire. All four groups perform multiple times each year at a variety of venues, including Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium. Placement in each ensemble is contingent upon space availability and audition quality.
Another ensemble within the PYSO is the PYSO All City Orchestra, an education initiative launched by the Pasadena Symphony Association in 2012 for students of the Pasadena Unified School District. The program provides small group and full ensemble instruction for students in partnership with school district faculty. This tuition-free ensemble is only eligible for PUSD students in the 3rd to 6th grades enrolled in their school music programs.
For information regarding PYSO, please contact our Education and Community Engagement Manager, Alex Chu, at [email protected].
The PYSO season follows the academic year (September-May) with auditions for the next season taking place after the season finale concert in May each year. All musicians must audition each season, regardless of prior participation, and placement is skill-based.
There is a non-refundable $30 fee to audition for PYSO.
Please contact Alex Chu at [email protected] or 626-793-7172 ex. 18 with any questions regarding the audition process or financial assistance.
PYSO Philharmonic: Sundays, 6:00-8:15 PM, Pasadena City College
PYSO Symphony: Tuesdays, 5:15-7:30 PM, Pasadena High School
PYSO String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble: Tuesdays, 5:15-7:30, Pasadena High School
Annual tuition for PYSO is $550. The Pasadena Symphony Association makes every effort to accommodate each family’s financial needs. Financial aid and scholarship information is available upon request by contacting Alex Chu.
PYSO students have the opportunity to work with professional musicians in small groups, during which each section will address instrument-specific issues to prepare the current repertoire. Sectionals are held several times each semester during regular rehearsal times.
The PYSO ensembles give two performances each season – one in late November or early December at Pasadena High School and one in early May at the Ambassador Auditorium. These two concerts, as well as associated dress rehearsals, are mandatory for all members of the PYSO.
PYSO holds a Solo Recital annually in March to give students the opportunity to perform in the beautiful Westerbeck Recital Hall at Pasadena City College. Students are selected through a separate audition process in February and may be asked to perform at the PYSO Spring Concert in May.
The PYSO has a rich history of touring locally, nationally, and internationally. Tours give students unparalleled opportunities to experience other cultures around the globe, perform in world-class venues, and make lifelong memories in the process! Students are strongly encouraged to participate in tours as they are offered, however tour participation is not mandatory for membership in the ensemble.
Retreats for PYSO 2017 ensembles will be updated here at the end of March 2017.
The Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestras are made possible in part by the generous support of:
The Youssef & Kamel Mawardi Fund
Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts
The Green Foundation
Special Individual Underwriting support provided by:
Jack and Barbara Dawson