UNH Youth Symphony Orchestra

UNH Youth Symphony Orchestra

The mission of the University of New Hampshire Youth Symphony Orchestra is to provide orchestral experiences of the highest possible caliber to string students in the seacoast region of New Hampshire, southern Maine, and northeastern Massachusetts. By providing quality musical instruction and high standards of rigor, the UNH-YSO seeks to help students develop in their technical capabilities and musical understanding.

UNH-YSO 2019-20 Academic Year Program Information

Who is eligible? String players in grades 4 through grade 12, and home-schooled students of an equivalent age, are eligible to audition for the UNH-YSO. Exceptionally advanced musicians of younger age may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Woodwinds, brass and percussion students are currently not included in the youth symphony, but may be added to the ensemble in future years. Woodwind, brass and percussion students can participate in the New Hampshire Youth Band.

Master Schedule: UNH-YSO Schedule summary 2019-2020

Where: All UNH-YSO events and activities take place in the UNH Music Department, in the Paul Creative Arts Center, 30 Academic Way, on the UNH Durham campus.

Tuition: 2019-2020 season is $100 per semester. 

Rehearsals: Rehearsals for the UNH-YSO ensembles are held on Sunday evenings. 

  • The Concert Orchestra is typically comprised of students in the upper elementary grades and middle school, and rehearses from 6:00 to 7:30 pm.
  • The Symphony Orchestra is typically comprised of high school age students, and rehearses from 7:30 to 9:00 pm.
  • The Chamber Orchestra is the most advanced ensemble and membership will not be restricted by age. It rehearses from 7:30 to 9:00 pm.

Target Skill Levels

Auditions: Students are selected for participation in the UNH-YSO via an audition process, designed to ensure that students possess the abilities necessary to be successful in the program. Students who are not placed into the orchestra one year are invited to audition again in future years.

Auditions for the 2019-2020 school year will be held on Sunday, August 25th, 2019, starting around 4:00 pm. Even if you are absolutely unable to audition on the night of August 25th, please still click here to schedule your audition. 

     Audition Requirements: The following are the audition requirements for joining the UNH-YSO. Please be prepared to do all of the following. When selecting your own material (i.e., the scales and solo excerpts), please choose things that show your best, current abilities. Please understand this is likely not something you are currently working on, but something you’ve recently completed and “polished.”

  • Scales: Prepare one major and one melodic minor scale of your choosing. 
    • Scales should demonstrate your full range and best tone production.
    • Intermediate bass players must perform a chromatic scale from the open E string to the B in first position on the G string.
  • Solo: Please prepare a solo excerpt that will demonstrate your abilities.
    • Intermediate players: Please prepare 1-2 minutes of solo material.
    • Advanced players: Please prepare 2-3 minutes of solo material, being sure to display a variety of styles and techniques.
  • Sight-Reading: In the audition, each student will be presented with a passage of music to sight-read, which matches the student’s current playing level. Please be prepared to sight-read a passage while paying close attention to proper pitches, rhythms, bowings, and other items printed on the page.

Concerto Competition: The UNH-YSO will be holding a concerto competition on Sunday, November 4th. The musician(s) chosen will perform with an orchestra at the concert in May. Soloists must be in the UNH-YSO for both semesters. Click here for information and an application form

Ongoing Instruction: Youth symphony students are expected to be pursuing individual or group instruction on their instruments while participating in the UNH-YSO.  Private lesson instruction fulfills this expectation, as does participation in a school program that meets two or more times per week and focuses primarily on bowed string instruments.

School Participation Policy: One of the fundamental reasons for the founding of the UNH-YSO is to support string education in the region. The UNH-YSO seeks to support all school string program that currently exist and hopes to encourage the creation of more. The UNH-YSO is not an alternative to instruction in a public or private school program; it is a supplement. 

Therefore, UNH-YSO students who attend a school where string instruction is offered as a part of the regular school curriculum must be participating in that school program. This would simultaneously fulfill the above requirement for ongoing instruction.

About the Conductor: The UNH-YSO will be conducted by Dr. David Upham. Dr. Upham is the conductor for the UNH Symphony Orchestra. You can read more about Dr. Upham and the UNH Symphony hereSectionals for the UNH-YSO will be led by UNH music education students and local professional string players, under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Upham. Sectionals for the UNH-YSO will be led by UNH music education students and local professional string players, under the leadership and guidance of Dr. Upham.

Student & Family Handbook: Complete information about the UNH-YSO can be found here in the Student and Family Handbook. 


Assistant Professor of Music (orchestra, conducting, string music education)
Phone: (603) 862-2000
Fax: (603) 862-3155

M206 Paul Creative Arts Center
30 Academic Way