Symphony students perform on the Orchestra Hall stage, conducted by Mark Russell Smith.

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.

2023-24 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
  • Tour to Southern France and Barcelona (June 2024); need-based financial assistance available
  • Rehearse weekly on stage at Orchestra Hall
  • Perform spectacular repertoire including Johannes BrahmsTragic Overture, Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919), Gustav Mahler’s Blumine, and Michael Abels’ Global Warming 
  • Perform at each Festival concert at Orchestra Hall (November & May), livestreamed for free
  • Share 3 Symphony concerts at Ted Mann Hall (December, April, & June)
  • Enjoy 2 half-day retreats at Ted Mann Concert Hall (October & January)
  • Work with professional musicians during sectionals throughout the year (percussionists enjoy a monthly seminar; woodwinds and brass will also learn from an annual masterclass)
  • Make friends with youth from across the region through social activities like treat nights, year-end parties, and optional pre-rehearsal dinners each semester

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 Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony in E Minor, Op. 95 “From the New World” at Northrop.

Tuition, Fees & Tuition Assistance

Symphony Tuition: $1,295 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 $2,600, 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 8 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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Supported by Community.

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