Youth Symphony

Santa Barbara Youth Symphony

For Advanced Players

Heralded as “…a prestigious group of young, talented musicians…” by Santa Barbara SEASONS magazine, the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony brings together 60-70 gifted musicians, ages 12-18, from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties to perform works across the orchestral repertoire. This advanced ensemble instills the discipline and commitment that budding young professionals need for the next step in their careers, whether in music or another field.

The Santa Barbara Symphony is engaged in a strategic partnership with Westmont College for the purposes of supporting the Youth Ensembles.  The partnership brings many additional resources to our music education program, educational opportunities for our students, internship experiences for Westmont students and perfectly complements our continuum of programs from elementary school, to college and even on to a professional orchestra career.

“The student experience in the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony is totally unique. Where else can my child learn and perform musical masterpieces in a symphony orchestra made up of their peers? The environment is so fun and supportive, rehearsals are the highlight of our week!”

Santa Barbara Youth Symphony 10/29/17 Notre Dame School
Santa Barbara Youth Symphony 10/29/17 Notre Dame School

Program Highlights

  • Nine months of weekly rehearsals led by conductor Dr. Daniel Gee and instrument-specific sectionals led by local professional musicians.
  • Three public performances at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.
  • Youth Symphony students have the opportunity to participate in our annual Concerto Competition and winners perform as featured soloists in Youth Symphony concerts.
  • Rehearsals include time set aside to discuss music theory, history, composition and other related topics.
  • Opportunities to perform for Symphony audiences before Symphony concerts.
  • Experience playing with vocal performers as well as with orchestral performers.
  • 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, 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 6-8:30pm. 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.
  • SAFETY NOTE: Student safety is our priority and we continue to closely monitor guidelines from the Public Health Department. Fall 2022 instruction will be conducted in-person and in accordance with current Santa Barbara County Public Health Department masking requirements as outlined HERE. The Santa Barbara Symphony strongly recommends vaccination for all students participating in the 2022-2023 Youth Ensembles season.
Santa Barbara Youth SymphonyWinter Concert 3/10/19 The Lobero Theatre

2022-2023 Audition Information

We are currently accepting mid-year applications for the following open positions in Youth Symphony: viola, double bass, oboe, bassoon, french horn, trombone, and timpani. New students can audition in November 2022 to join us for the remainder of our season.

If you play one of these instruments, please apply now and start practicing the audition repertoire below! We would love to have you join us.

2022-2023 Audition Requirements

  • Level: Advanced. Open to woodwind, brass, percussion, and string instrumentalists.
    • Recommended Suzuki level for strings: book 5 and up
  • Scales and Arpeggios:
    • String players prepare a 3 octave major and minor scale and arpeggio of your choice AND a 3 octave chromatic scale.
    • Woodwind and brass players prepare a 2 or 3 (if possible) octave scale and arpeggio of your choice AND a two-octave chromatic scale.
  • Audition Excerpts: download and prepare audition excerpts according to your instrument from the links below.
    • Violinists may choose the Violin 1 excerpts or the Violin 2 excerpts. Choice of excerpts does not guarantee section assignment.


  • A Solo Piece which best demonstrates both technical and musical skills on the instrument (no accompanist needed).
    • Percussionists: please prepare a solo piece or excerpt on the snare drum.

2022-2023 Tuition

All-inclusive tuition for the nine-month program $650

As a non-profit, generous annual donations from Symphony supporters enable us to keep tuition fees to a minimum. Payment plans and need-based scholarships are available. Admitted musicians will not be turned away due to finances. If tuition is 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 Youth Symphony 10/29/17 Notre Dame School
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