The American Youth Symphony (AYS) is dedicated to the artistic development of a new generation of musicians and to building new audiences for orchestral music. The orchestra serves outstanding instrumentalists who seek to supplement their education and expand their horizon in a pre-professional environment. AYS provides for unique performance opportunities, superb mentoring and inspiring collaborations with world-class artists and composers. Players are exposed to a wide repertoire and varied styles of music, from classical masterworks to world premieres and innovative film scores. In recent years, guest artists included Sarah Chang, Johannes Moser, John Williams, David Newman, Alan Silvestri, Charles Fox, and Lera Auerbach.
With its sophisticated programming and free concerts at Royce Hall, the American Youth Symphony fosters curiosity, aspires to artistic excellence and strives to attract and engage the diverse communities of Los Angeles. No one is to be excluded on the basis of ability to pay.
The 2014/15 orchestra is comprised of 108 students ranging in age from 15 to 27 and representing 26 different high schools and colleges. Access to the training ground is based on merit only. Aspiring musicians audition live for a panel composed of the music director, assistant conductor and principal players. There is no tuition or fee to audition.
Founded in 1964 by Mehli Mehta – father of Zubin Mehta and former Concertmaster of the Halle Orchestra – the American Youth Symphony has trained over 2,000 musicians who now enjoy successful careers in orchestras, music schools and recording studios around the world. Together, the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestras, for instance, employ eight AYS alumni in principal posts. 32 members of the three major orchestras in Los Angeles – the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Los Angeles Opera Orchestra – have trained at AYS.