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Philharmonia Orchestra

Philharmonia Orchestra

The Intermediate Step

The intermediate step in the Music Education program’s continuum of performing ensembles, the Philharmonia Orchestra engages string, wind, brass, and percussion students in performing as a full orchestra under the baton of Marisa McLeod. To provide targeted training and experience with other repertoire, Philharmonia students also rehearse as a chamber strings group with Marisa McLeod and a symphonic wind band with Karen Dutton. Students in the Philharmonia Orchestra have two or more years of study on a string, wind, brass, or percussion instrument.

Santa Barbara Youth Symphony Community Concert  4/29/17 PageYouth Center
Santa Barbara Junior Orchestra 10/29/17 Vieja Valley School

Program Highlights

  • Nine months of weekly rehearsals led by conductor Marisa McLeod and instrument-specific sectionals led by local professional musicians.
  • Three public performances at venues throughout Santa Barbara.
  • Students receive two free tickets to every regular season Santa Barbara Symphony concert, and access to reduced priced tickets for additional family members.
  • Invitations to talks, meet & greets, open rehearsals, and masterclasses with the extraordinary professional musicians of The Symphony and visiting guest artists.
  • Invitations to participate in enrichment opportunities with community partners such as Santa Barbara Unified School District music programs, Santa Barbara Strings, Music Academy of the West, UCSB and Westmont College.
  • Santa Barbara Symphony Youth Ensembles T-Shirt

Participant Guidelines

  • Attend weekly Sunday rehearsals from 3-5pm. Students rehearse during the school year from September through May and must be on time for all rehearsals and performances.
  • Students are expected to further their musical education outside of rehearsals by:
    • Practicing their instruments and assigned material on a daily basis
    • Participating in their school music program
    • Attending at least 5 Santa Barbara Symphony concerts
    • Taking private lessons is highly recommended
  • Families are expected to:
    • Help students keep a regular practice schedule
    • Volunteer for and participate in social events and fundraising activities.
SB Symphony - Youth Programs Community Concert 4/7/18 Page Youth Center

2024-2025 Audition Information

Auditions for the 2024-2025 Youth Ensembles season will be held in June 2024. Details coming soon!

As the only youth orchestra program in the region connected to a professional symphony and a college, the Santa Barbara Symphony’s multi-level Youth Ensembles program presents a unique learning opportunity for young musicians to develop their skills and connect with music and each other.

Students playing oboe, bassoon, brass, or low strings are particularly encouraged to apply — but ALL orchestral instrumentalists in the 3rd to 12th grades are invited to audition!

To ensure appropriate ensemble placement, all new and returning students are required to audition.


Find your audition requirements here — your teacher can help you prepare!

If you have any questions, please contact us at or 805-898-1417.

2024-2025 Audition Requirements

  • Level: Intermediate.  Students in the Philharmonia Orchestra have two or more years of study on a string, wind, brass, or percussion instrument.
    • Recommended Suzuki level for strings: book 3-5
  • Scales and Arpeggios:
    • Strings: download repertoire according to your instrument and prepare all listed scales and arpeggios. All scales should be played with two notes slurred.
    • Woodwinds and brass: prepare a 2 octave major scale and arpeggio of your choice in any key up to four flats and four sharps AND a two-octave chromatic scale if possible.
    • Mallet percussion: play two scales and arpeggios of your choice on the glockenspiel.
  • Audition Excerpts: download and prepare audition excerpts according to your instrument.
  • A Solo Piece: choose and prepare a piece which best demonstrates both technical and musical skills on the instrument (no accompanist needed).
    • Percussionists: please prepare a solo piece or excerpt on either snare drum or glockenspiel.
  • Sight-reading: to demonstrate your ability to read and learn new music, you will be given a short passage to sight-read in the audition.



2023-2024 Tuition

All-inclusive tuition for the nine-month program $575

As a non-profit, generous annual donations from Symphony supporters enable us to keep tuition fees to a minimum. Need-based tuition assistance, payment plans, and sibling discounts are available and admitted musicians will not be turned away due to finances. If tuition fees pose a challenge, please reach out to the Education Programs Manager at 805-898-1417.

Support this program!

Would you like to join our family of donors and support this program? Annual donations at any level have a big impact. They can fund scholarships, help pay our faculty, provide instruments and more! 

Santa Barbara Junior Orchestra 10/29/17 Vieja Valley School
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