Philharmonia East

Mary Sorlie conducts Philharmonia East on the Orchestra Hall stage.

Beginning string students from the East Metro are challenged to excel in a fun environment while building a foundation for learning how to play in an orchestra in with other young musicians.


Beloved conductor and string pedagogy expert Mary Sorlie strikes a winning balance of fun and rigor in GTCYS’ entry-level string orchestras, Philharmonia East and Philharmonia West. Beginning string players have an average of 2 to 4 years’ experience, and develop vital ensemble skills that foster individual growth, while learning how to listen and watch, and understand orchestral vocabulary. Repertoire is primarily first position, and students must know detaché and staccato bow strokes.

2024-25 Highlights

  • Learn from Mary Sorlie, a GTCYS alum, professional violinist, and award-winning teacher
  • Perform 2 concerts at Orchestra Hall in November and May, livestreamed for free
  • Share 2 free community concerts
  • Explore a challenging array of music from different styles and artists 
  • Enjoy 2 half-day retreats in September and January
  • Work with professional musicians during sectionals throughout the year
  • Connect with youth from across the region through social activities like treat nights and optional leadership activities

Rehearsals: September – May

Tuesdays, 6:30-8:00pm
Neighborhood House: 179 Robie St E, St. Paul, MN 55107
Free parking is available in the attached parking garage.
Carpool lists are provided so interested families can coordinate ridesharing.

Online Calendar

Watch a Philharmonia East Performance

Enjoy their live performance of Dueling French Dances by Claude Gervaise, arr. Deborah Baker Monday at Orchestra Hall.

Tuition, Fees & Tuition Assistance

Philharmonia Tuition: $825 for the full season. Students joining 2nd semester pay 60%.

We offer a sibling discount of $95 per additional child. See below to learn about our generous tuition assistance. While the actual cost to participate is nearly double that amount, charitable contributions subsidize every student’s participation so we can keep tuition as affordable as possible.

Retreat Fee: $100 total for the fall and winter retreats. Reduced fees are available for tuition assistance recipients.

Payment options: Families can pay in full, or in monthly installments, or set up a special plan to meet your family’s needs. 

Tuition Assistance: Generous need-based assistance is offered for all of GTCYS’ programs including school-year orchestras, summer programs, tours, and special activities. No work study or volunteering is required for scholarship recipients. Support for private lessons is also provided. We encourage all families experiencing financial hardship to apply, especially if cost is a determining factor for participation. Learn more about tuition assistance and click here to apply.


Each GTCYS orchestra is a community of musicians, each of whom is equally important to the group’s progress and success. Students are accountable to their orchestra peers and should honor their commitment by consistently attending GTCYS activities, practicing GTCYS music 10 minutes a day, follow all policies outlined in the Musician’s Handbook.

Important Links

  • Musician’s Handbook: includes info like participation policies, concert attire, and what to bring to rehearsals
  • Attendance Policy: GTCYS’ policy balances flexibility with rigor; be sure to review it!
  • Absence Form: Complete online in advance if a student will miss a GTCYS activity
  • News Notes: Our monthly e-newsletter sent to participating families


In order to determine which GTCYS orchestra students are best suited for, every student must audition each year to participate. Auditions are conducted by a recorded video, and include scales, a short solo, and prepared excerpts. Previous participation in GTCYS does not guarantee placement. Learn more about auditions.

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