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 2023-2024 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. UNH offers the New Hampshire Youth Band as an option for these students. 

Master Schedule: UNH-YSO Schedule Summary Fall 2023

Where: Paul Creative Arts Center, 30 Academic Way, Durham, NH.

Tuition:  Tuition for the Fall 2023 session is $125. Spring 2024 will also be $125.

Rehearsals: UNH-YSO activities 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.

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 2023-2024 school year will be held in person in the Paul Creative Arts Center (UNH Campus, Durham) on Sunday evening, August 27th, between 5:00 and 9:00 PM. After completing a brief registration questionnaire, the YSO staff will assign you an audition time which will be emailed to you on Monday, August 21st. Younger students will be assigned earlier times automatically, and families can indicate any schedule limitations they may have that evening. If you have an unavoidable conflict with August 27th, please complete the registration questionnaire anyway. We will then make separate arrangements.

Register for an audition time beginning August 1, 2023.

If you have questions, please contact David.Upham@unh.edu

     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 excerpts (i.e., the scales and solo pieces), please choose things that show your best, current abilities. This is most likely not something you are currently working on, but something you’ve recently completed or “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.
    • Please prepare only 1-2 minutes of your best material.
  • Sight-reading: During the audition, we will present each student with a short passage of music unfamiliar to them. After briefly reviewing the music mentally, the student will be asked to play it. This is intended simply to ensure that all participants are adept at reading music, as rehearsal time is insufficient to allow students to learn all their music by rote.

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 ensemble program that meets two or more times per week and is dedicated to bowed string instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass).

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 programs 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 here.  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. 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