The mission of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra is to provide pre-professional training to Orange County’s most talented young musicians through varied performance opportunities, and by establishing an environment that develops creative ability, self-expression and the desire for perfection.
WHO WE ARE
Founded in 1970, OCYSO is the official youth orchestra of Orange County. Our diverse roster represents student musicians from nearly 40 high school and college programs from San Clemente to Fullerton and more. The OCYSO community of young musicians and their families is particularly committed to advancing and sharing the intercultural love of orchestral music. We serve as music-ambassadors to each other and to our local schools, districts, and cities.
With the support of a small staff and board, the orchestra is energetically led by our music director and conductor, Daniel Alfred Wachs. Visit Maestro Wachs’ website for more information on his career, education, and projects.
WHAT WE DO
Our nine-month season (September-May) consists of 11 performances, 5 workshops, 26 rehearsals, a concerto competition, and a three-day mountain retreat. All workshops and rehearsals take place on the campus of our founding partner, Chapman University (centrally located within the county in the City of Orange). Performances take place at three locations: the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Chapman’s historic Memorial Hall, and the new and stunning Musco Center for the Arts. The Orchestra generally rehearses on Sundays from 2:00 to 5:00pm. For the complete season schedule, click here.
Maestro Wachs carefully programs each season with a commitment to new music and commissions alongside traditional repertory favorites. Season highlights include:
- A fairy tale, Humperdinck’s opera Hansel & Gretel (December)
- Gershwin’s masterpiece, An American in Paris (March)
- And a Russian revolution, Shostakovich’s monumental Symphony No. 11, The Year 1905 (May)
OCYSO additionally serves to support and supplement music programs across the County.
- Presented in longtime partnership with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, our annual Concerts for Fifth Graders series has impacted more than one million students since the 1980s.
- OCYSO recently began inviting select high school programs to jointly perform in our season finale concert, doubling the size of each ensemble and providing new platforms for access and inspiration to all students.
- All OCYSO musicians are required to participate in their respective and primary string, band, or orchestral programs. This reinforces both ensembles since each individual student is immersed in symphonic literature.
In our 48-year history, OCYSO has traveled the world representing Orange County’s best young adult musicians. Locations visited include Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall.
- OCYSO received the prestigious American Prize in Orchestra Performance—Youth Orchestra Division in 2012.
- Among others, it has performed new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage (including a U.S. commission and premiere) and Kurt Schwertsik and has hosted notable guests such as Ray Chen, Midori, and the Kronos Quartet.
- Past collaborations have included the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra presented by the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall, TEDx at Chapman University, and the West Coast Youth Orchestra Festival.
- In 2014, OCYSO celebrated the Philharmonic Society 60th season finale and farewell performance for Dean Corey with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. This event (click for YouTube link) was selected by PBS SoCal for multiple broadcasts.
COMMITMENT + COST
Open and competitive auditions for OCYSO are held every June for eighth through twelfth grade and college students residing in or near Orange County. Full information on audition requirements and excerpts may be found here. The total nine-month season cost, which includes 11 performances, 5 workshops, and 26 rehearsals is $900 (this amount qualifies as a tax-deductible charitable contribution). A separate $200 fee supports the weekend mountain retreat at the beginning of each season. We offer installment flexibility as well as other options to support those families and students who wish to commit to a season.
“The performance was smashing thanks in no small part to the exceptionally well-practiced pre-professionals, who brought a sparkle to the Salzburgers’ sound that wasn’t there before…They are the real thing.”
— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times on a joint concert with the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg
“Wachs led a wonderfully clear and patient traversal, finding order in complexity. The young musicians appeared to have little trouble with the work’s progressive language.”
— Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register on the United States premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele, an OCYSO co-commission
“The young players gave an excellent performance and earned the tremendous ovation they received…Charismatic director Daniel Alfred Wachs was excellent throughout.”
— Bristol Cathedral (UK) performance