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 accomplished student musicians 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 additional resources and 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.
  • Opportunity to participate in our annual Concerto Competition, with winners performing as featured soloists in Youth 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, 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 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.
Santa Barbara Youth SymphonyWinter Concert 3/10/19 The Lobero Theatre

2023-2024 Audition Information

Apply now and join the Santa Barbara Symphony’s Youth Ensembles for the 2023-24 season! 

As the only youth orchestra program in the region connected to a professional symphony and a college, the Symphony’s multi-level Youth Ensembles present 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!

Rehearsals begin September 10th, 2023. We are currently accepting late applications as space in the orchestras allow. Once we receive your application we will reach out to schedule your 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.

2023-2024 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. For excerpts in two sections, perform both sections as marked.
    • Violinists may choose the Violin 1 excerpts or the Violin 2 excerpts. Choice of excerpts does not guarantee section assignment.
    • Woodwinds must perform the listed excerpt on the instrument indicated. If you also play an auxiliary instrument (piccolo, english horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon) you may choose to perform your solo piece on that instrument.
  • 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 timpani, 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 $675

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 Youth Symphony 10/29/17 Notre Dame School
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