The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras (SSYO)

Since 1944 both the SSO and Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras have been woven into the fabric of our communities. Throughout the area we serve, the SSO strives to provide young musicians – and young listeners – with exposure to classical music and live performances that can educate and inspire.

The SSYOs are two merit-based orchestras sponsored by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, for talented young musicians (up to age 19) living in the Pioneer Valley and beyond. The SSYO will perform three Sunday afternoon concerts and two free concerts for young children. These events offer the perfect family-friendly way to introduce your children to the magic of live orchestral music. Additional opportunities such as sectionals with members of the SSO, an annual field trip, and our concerto competition provide an engaging musical environment for young musicians.

Auditions for both the Springfield Youth Sinfonia (an introductory orchestra that develops ensemble skills), and the Springfield Youth Orchestra (an advanced orchestra that cultivates standard orchestral repertoire) are held several times during the calendar year.

Live Virtual Course Offerings Fall 2020

Until we can meet safely in person, the Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras (SSYO) are continuing virtually during Fall 2020 to expand our members’ horizons in music. Four carefully designed live virtual courses will be offered, led by an exceptional professional faculty.

Classes will meet weekly in four-week sessions, with Session 1 beginning October 17th & 18th. This first session will be available only to current members of the Springfield Youth Orchestra and Springfield Youth Sinfonia. If you have questions, please contact Education Director Kirsten Lipkens at

Check out the initial course offerings below — more details available here.

Session 2 will begin November 21st, with courses available for both SSYO members and other interested students.


Small Ensemble/Group Coaching

Coaches: Springfield Symphony Orchestra Professional Musicians
This is open to all SSYO students, and all instruments. Groups of 4-6 students will be formed based on instrument or small ensemble repertoire, and groups will be matched with SSO musicians who will teach the students each week. The course will conclude with an interactive creative performance designed by the teachers and students.

Introduction to Music Composition

Instructor: Haneef Nelson
Have you ever wanted to learn how to compose music but do not know where to start? Have you ever thought: “I wish I could write my own songs?” Would you like a starting place in the journey of becoming a composer? This 4-week session will introduce music composition through an exploration of several styles of writing music.

Reading the Signs: An Exploration in Score Study and Repertoire

Instructor: Cailin Marcel Manson
This course presents students with an eclectic spread of concert music repertoire, inviting them to recognize both the obvious and subtle features of a score. Students will practice the skills of critical and analytical listening, reflect about what they perceive aurally, and pair these reflections with discussions on context and analysis to inform their own ideas about interpretation.

Beginning Music Theory

Instructor: Peter Hoyle
Designed for students who are not yet comfortable with the fundamentals of music theory, this class will familiarize the student with music’s basic structure. In this class we will cover the foundational elements of music theory, and work to discover why music sounds the way it does. Students will learn about the different chords and scales that make up western music.

Join the SSYO for the 2020-2021 Season!

Openings in both Ensembles! Scholarships available! Auditions for the 2020-21 Season will be BY VIDEO.

Click the button below to register and read how to make your video.

Benefits of Membership in the SSYO

  • Great repertoire, fellowship with other talented musicians
  • Complimentary and discounted tickets to SSO concerts
  • Concerto Competitions, sectionals, masterclasses, and coaching

Youth Orchestra Concerts

The Springfield Symphony Youth Orchestras perform at least 5 times per year. Three of these concerts are full ticketed programs, with both orchestras performing symphonic repertoire in the spectacular Springfield Symphony Hall. These concerts are enjoyed by all ages, families and the public that prefers Sunday matinee performances.

Extra concerts offer shorter programs and are scheduled in unique spaces around Springfield and across the region. These concerts, free to the public, highlight the SSYO’s chamber groups, or just one orchestra and are designed for a younger audience. These include:

  • Hoops and Harmony, a yearly event in the theater at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
  • Small group performances during intermission or pre-concert for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra
  • “Thank an Artist” with the Springfield Cultural Partnership in the MGM Springfield Courtyard
  • Family Fiesta at Tower Square in Springfield