Mark Russell Smith conducts Symphony on the Orchestra Hall stage.

The finest student musicians in the region come together for professional repertoire, thrilling performance opportunities, international tours, and lifelong friendships.


Led by professional conductor and educator Mark Russell Smith, Symphony is GTCYS’ flagship orchestra which masters major repertoire, including full symphonic works, in a supportive and conservatory-like setting. With its own concert series and professional style performance opportunities, Symphony attracts the best young musicians in the region. String players in Symphony have an average of 7 to 12 years of experience and winds/brass/percussion students have typically been playing their instruments for 5 to 8 years. Special artistic projects, sectionals, retreats, social activities, and extra opportunities provide a well-rounded and transformative experience which develops students’ musical, leadership, and lifelong skills.

2024-25 Highlights

  • Learn from Mark Russell Smith, our esteemed artistic director as well as the artistic director of orchestral activities at the University of Minnesota, music director and conductor of the Quad City Symphony, and professional conductor across the country.
  • Rehearse on stage at Orchestra Hall each week.
  • Perform at each Festival concert at Orchestra Hall in November & May, livestreamed for free
  • Present 3 Symphony concerts at Ted Mann Hall and Benson Great Hall.
  • Perform exciting repertoire including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5.
  • Enjoy 2 half-day retreats in September & January
  • Work with professional musicians in sectionals throughout the year; woodwinds, brass, and percussionists benefit from extra enrichment opportunities (details forthcoming).
  • Connect with youth from across the region through social activities like treat nights and optional leadership activities.

Rehearsals: September – May

Mondays, 6:45-9:15pm
Orchestra Hall: 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403.
This incredible opportunity is made possible through a special partnership with Minnesota Orchestra and with the generous support of GTCYS’ community of donors.

Online Calendar

Watch a Symphony Performance

Enjoy their live performance of The Firebird: Suite (1919 version) by Igor Stravinsky at Ted Mann Concert Hall.

Tuition, Fees & Tuition Assistance

Symphony Tuition: $1,395 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.

Serving Community.
Supported by Community.

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