The Binghamton Youth Symphony is one of the oldest such organizations in the United States. It was organized in 1961 to promote and enrich the musical education of young people in the Southern Tier of New York and the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. Young musicians from more than twenty school districts comprise the orchestras. The Senior Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Preparatory Youth Symphony Orchestra offer performance opportunities to talented musicians in elementary, middle, and high schools. Both groups rehearse from September to May. Membership is open to interested students by audition. All members must participate in their school music groups.
The orchestras perform major concerts in January and May of each year. January and May concerts also feature members of the orchestra who have auditioned for the opportunity to perform a concerto with the orchestra. Being selected as a soloist has been both a goal toward which our musicians work, and a reward for their quality and dedication.
In addition to these local events, they have been chosen to play at the New York State School Music Association Conventions and the New York State School Boards Association Conference a number of times. The Orchestra has also traveled to participate in performances and competitions with other youth symphonies. These trips provide an opportunity to be adjudicated and to build the spirit of cooperation essential to the quality of the group. The Orchestra has participated in the Liberty Bell Festival in Philadelphia (Gold Award); the Manhattan Skyline Festival (Gold Award); the Young Manhattan Music Festival (Silver Award); the Festival of Nations in Washington, D.C. (Gold Award); an exchange concert with the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Festival of Youth Orchestras in Brantford, Ontario (Gold Award). The Orchestra has traveled to Philadelphia where they performed concerts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the New Jersey State Aquarium at Camden. The Orchestra traveled to Washington D.C. where they performed a concert at the Washington St. Methodist Church in Arlington Virginia which dates back to the Civil War and were guests of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to attend a performance of the National Symphony Orchestra. One of the latest out of state performances was at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, just outside of Boston.
Not only do the orchestras provide outlets for outstanding young musicians but they have become an important educational venue for local schools. The annual Introduction to the Orchestra concert by the Senior Orchestra attracts over 1,800 elementary and secondary school students every year. This concert is the first exposure that many of these students have to see a live performance of an orchestra. Additional performances of the orchestra include joint ventures with the Binghamton Philharmonic, Binghamton Community Orchestra, and commencement exercises for Broome Community College.