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.

The UNH-YSO is offering AN ONLINE EXPERIENCE FOR THE FALL 2020 SESSION. PLEASE read below and click Here for a summary .PDF File.
PLEASE contact David.Upham@unh.edu for ANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE.

UNH-YSO 2020-21 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. 

Master Schedule: UNH-YSO Schedule summary Fall 2020

During the Fall 2020 session, the UNH-YSO program will use Zoom video communication software to connect students to each other, their UNH-YSO coaches and conductor, and to special guest speakers. Sunday evening sessions will alternate weekly between musical preparation and interactive visits with special guests.

The musical preparation sessions will assist students in readying various pieces of string orchestra music for a virtual (recorded) “performance” at the conclusion of the semester. Our special guests will present ideas and activities to engage students with the notion of musical creativity, including improvisation, composition, fiddling and folk music, the use of recording technology, and more! Please refer to the summary .PDF file described above for more information.

Where: For the Fall 2020 session, all activities will take place using Zoom.

Tuition:  Tuition for the Fall 2020 session is $100. 

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 2020-2021 school year will be held ONLINE. Students will audition by submitting a video recording of two scales and a brief solo. In order to be able to participate in the first session on September 13th, recordings should be submitted by the end of Wednesday, September 9th. Auditions may be submitted after that date, but students might not be able to participate in the first session.

Details about the audition process can be found on page 2 of this document.

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.
  • NOTE: During a live audition, each student is normally presented with a passage of music to sight-read. This is not possible during a recorded audition, of course. However, YSO students must be able to read music fluently; the UNH-YSO staff is not able to teach music by rote in this setting. If a student who is initially accepted into the YSO is not able to read music independently, they will have to discontinue participation but will receive a full refund.

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 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 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.  PLEASE NOTE THAT THE HANDBOOK IS NOT YET UPDATED TO REFLECT COVID-RELATED CHANGES.



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