About the Program
For more than 45 seasons, the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra (TSYO) has been dedicated to providing a high-level orchestral experience for talented young musicians aged 22 and under. The tuition-free TSYO program delivers a unique, powerful, and life-enriching opportunity that encourages significant achievement, regardless of the career path participants choose to pursue. The TSYO has a close affiliation with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO): TSO musicians serve as coaches through the season, TSO guest artists lead masterclasses for TSYO members, and the TSYO performs annually with the TSO in a side-by-side concert at Roy Thomson Hall.
The Youth Orchestra’s affiliation with the TSO has resulted in a number of exciting masterclasses led by world-renowned guest artists and conductors. Recent guests include Alison Balsom, Alisa Weilerstein, James Ehnes, Pinchas Zukerman, Pekka Kuusisto, Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Christian Lindberg, Maxim Vengerov, James Gaffigan, Stéphane Denève, Sir Andrew Davis, and TSO Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, to name only a few.
The Youth Orchestra has toured extensively within Canada and abroad. Tour destinations have included Banff, British Columbia, the Canadian Arctic, Quebec, Texas, Massachusetts, California, Japan, and Europe.
TSYO rehearsals generally take place weekly between mid-September and the last week of April, from 2:30pm to 5:30pm on Saturday afternoons at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Music, in the Edward Johnson Building.
TSYO members must bring their own music stand to every rehearsal.
TSYO members are required to check email daily and note all schedule updates. Attendance at all rehearsals, concerts, masterclasses, and other activities is mandatory. All TSYO members are expected to continue their school music programs since the TSYO is meant to supplement such programs, not replace them. Attendance at all TSYO activities is mandatory. Members will not be excused for paid gigs.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes before the beginning of the rehearsal to set up and warm up.
- If you have forgotten or lost your music, contact the TSYO Manager in plenty of time before the beginning of the rehearsal.
- A pencil (with eraser) should always be on everybody's music stand, and inside string players must mark their own parts as well.
- The concertmaster will start tuning five minutes before the beginning of the rehearsal. Tuning should be fast and professional—no “warming up” here.
- The rehearsal starts as soon as the conductor enters.
- When the conductor stops the music, please stop immediately and do not finish the phrase.
- When the conductor rehearses with other players, do not chat. This is a good time to listen and try to learn something useful for your own part. The same applies to players who are tacit.
- When counting rests, do not rely on other players. Always count for yourself (or know your cue well).
- Woodwind players should always bring playable spare reeds and mouthpieces. “Scraping” and “testing” can cause unwanted delays.
At the end of the rehearsal, make sure you remember or write down any important information you need for the next rehearsal.
A TSYO staff member is available before every rehearsal and during the break to answer questions, help solve problems, and collect anything due.
Each fall, the TSYO holds an intensive rehearsal weekend at YMCA Geneva Park in Orillia, Ontario. Members work closely with the TSYO coaches and conductor in a variety of individual, combined, and full-orchestra rehearsals. Camp Weekend also includes team-building and leadership activities, choral workshops, a campfire, and the famous faculty concert!
Each year, the TSYO performs side by side with the TSO and a guest conductor on stage at Roy Thomson Hall. This exciting collaboration highlights the mentorship our Youth Orchestra members receive from TSO musicians.
The TSYO presents three term concerts each year in the best performance venues in Toronto. Each full-length concert features different orchestral repertoire. TSYO members may also perform in various outreach concerts as opportunities arise.
We are delighted to announce the results of the 2019/20 TSYO Concerto Competition:
Emad Zolfaghari (viola)—to perform with the TSO in the 2020/21 season
Eugene Zhang (double bass)—to perform with the TSYO in the 2020/21 season
Elliot Sloss (cello)—to perform with the TSYO in the 2020/21 season
Congratulations to all our members who participated in the annual TSYO Concerto Competition this season!
All TSYO members are eligible to participate in our Concerto Competition. Participants in the TSYO Concerto Competition will perform for a jury (consisting of TSYO faculty members and TSO musicians). All parents and friends are welcome to attend as this event is free and open to the public. The winners of the TSYO Concerto Competition will have an opportunity to perform as a soloist with either the TSO, in one of its concerts for young people, or with the TSYO.
- Participants must be current TSYO members in good standing.
- Participants will play a complete movement from a concerto or a large solo work of their own choice. The concerto or solo piece must be written for soloist with orchestral accompaniment.
- Participants must supply a collaborative pianist.
The concerto or solo piece must be written for soloist with orchestral accompaniment.
- The length of the movement must be no more than 10 minutes (this is firm; please make cuts, as necessary).
Throughout the year, TSO guest artists may lead a masterclass for TSYO members. Past masterclasses have been led by Alison Balsom, Alisa Weilerstein, James Ehnes, Pinchas Zukerman, Yo-Yo Ma, and Maxim Vengerov, to name a few.
TSYO awards are merit-based and granted at the discretion of the TSYO conductor, coaching staff, and management. All musicians participating in the TSYO will be considered for an award, and no application is required. Award recipients are selected based on the following criteria:
- Overall commitment to the TSYO
- Demonstrating leadership within the orchestra (performance and attitude)
- Attendance and punctuality (regular attendance and arriving on time to all TSYO-related events/rehearsals)
- Artistic excellence (includes overall performance and improvement)
Award winners will be announced at the Spring Concert.
The Stingray Rising Stars Award was launched in 1998 as Galaxie Rising Stars. This original program sets out to discover, encourage, promote, and champion new up-and-coming Canadian artists through partnerships with presenting organizations. In the 2018/19 season we were delighted to announce the first TSYO Stingray Rising Stars Award. The award, with a value of $1,000, was designed to help a TSYO member advance their career.
The TSYO Stingray Rising Stars Award winner for 2019/20 is Eugene Zhang.
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