In the conviction that music nourishes the mind, body and spirit of the individual and enriches the community, the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra provides a rigorous and inspiring orchestral experience for young musicians.


Since 1976, the Modesto Symphony Orchestra has served over 100 member musicians and their families from over forty public and private schools in the Central Valley. Led by a deeply engaged leadership team, the MSYO attracts outstanding musicians from area schools and allows them the opportunity to share their gift of music in a challenging and inspiring orchestral setting among their peers from all social, economic, cultural and geographic backgrounds.

The Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra began in 1976 when a dedicated core of string teachers in Stanislaus County formed an orchestra out of a group of junior high member musicians. In 1982, an Irvine Foundation grant provided the seed money for an additional senior high school orchestra. The merging of the two orchestras in 1988 brought great continuity and strength to both. In 2011, the MSYO welcomed a third division - Wind Ensemble, a preparatory wind and percussion group.

The Symphony Orchestra and Concert Orchestra are formed through skill based auditions. All MSYO ensembles perform in and around the region. The Concert Orchestra has toured San Francisco, Sacramento and the Central Valley. The Symphony Orchestra has toured England, France, Japan, Eastern Europe, Canada, China, and in the United States including a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City. In June of 2012, the MSYO combined with the Napa Valley Youth Symphony completed a concert tour of Salzburg, Vienna and Prague, including a performance in the 2012 Mahler festival. Most recently in June 2014, the MSYO and Napa Valley Youth Symphony toured to New York City and performed at Carnegie Hall & Central Park as well as participated in the NY Phil Young Composers workshop.

As a program within the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Association, MSYO members enjoy musical interactions with MSO musicians as well as guest artists and guest conductors through coaching, master classes, rehearsals and concerts.

The MSYO expects that all members contribute their talents to the appropriate school instrumental ensemble, where available. This supports our school music curricula and helps to provide strong leadership and musical role models in the school environment. The strength of the regional school music programs is vital to the future growth and success of the MSYO.

MSYO auditions are held initially each spring prior to the start of the following concert season and are open to any musician through the age of 19. Additional auditions and seating auditions are held throughout the season.


MSYO is a season-long commitment. Consistent attendance and preparation at rehearsals is essential to performance quality, educational value, morale of ensemble and retention of membership.

Cost & Volunteer Hours

MSYO tuition is $400 per year. Families with more than one child participating in any given year will receive a 20% sibling discount after the first full tuition. Tuition covers a only fraction of our costs. To keep tuition as low as possible, each family is asked to volunteer a minimum of 6 hours or provide equivalent services for the season. More information can be found in the MSYO Handbook.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

A limited amount of financial aid based on need is available. Financial aid requests will be reviewed in the order they are received. To apply for financial aid, please complete the financial aid form and follow the directions listed in the registration packet.