Empire State Youth Orchestra engages more than 600 youth from across New York’s Capital Region and Western New England in the joyful pursuit of musical excellence. Guided by outstanding teaching artists, coaches and conductors, members explore their potential alongside like-minded peers in an environment that is musically daring and seriously fun!
ESYO has provided outstanding music training and performance opportunities for young musicians since 1979. Beginning with a small, single orchestra forty years ago, ESYO has grown to include twelve performing ensembles, wind and brass choirs, and a free music-training program called CHIME. ESYO players are afforded exceptional learning opportunities with professional musicians, renowned conductors and passionate teaching artists. Combined, ESYO’s performing ensembles offer more than thirty public performances each year at a variety of venues including Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, the Massry Center, Arthur Zankel Music Center, Proctors, and Carnegie Hall. ESYO has received three prestigious awards for its adventurous programming from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and has had six European tours, including participation in the 2018 World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles festival in Hungary. ESYO has also toured in Asia, performing at the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, South Korea.
ESYO’s programming provides a solid musical foundation for those students who want to pursue musical careers. Repertoire features masterworks as well as music from living composers. ESYO has commissioned music from composers such as Samuel Adler, Hilary Tann, Dan Cooper, Jin Hi Kim, Clint Needham, Grammy-winning Bill Cunliffe, and Michael Davis, which allows our musicians to be a part of the creative process as they work with the composer in rehearsal and bring a musical idea to life in a performance.
Working with professional musicians goes beyond the weekly rehearsals and coaching sessions; ESYO musicians have taken advantage of master classes and visits from guest artists such as The Shanghai Quartet, Boston Brass Quintet, Hyperion Quartet, ESYO alum Gary Wicks from Manhattan Transfer, Benjamin Zander, Alan Vizutti, Charles Yang, and “Blue” Lou Marini. Collaborations with other arts organizations such as Albany Symphony Orchestra and Albany Pro Musica enhance the ESYO Experience.
ESYO graduates tell us that their ESYO experience helped them develop skills (such as working in a team, responsibility, and discipline) that have helped them achieve success. Alumni can be found in all walks of life from finance to science to medicine to business, and of course in the music industry. ESYO is well represented by alumni on stage performing classical and contemporary music in national orchestras and in small combos, backstage as arts managers, recording engineers, and composers, and in the classroom teaching the next generation of musicians.
ESYO seeks to expand its impact beyond its members, believing that music can be a catalyst for social change. This belief is why ESYO has helped raise more than $8 million for Albany Medical Center’s pediatric oncology program through the Melodies of Christmas concerts, and why, in 2015, ESYO launched CHIME (Creating Harmony Inspiring Musical Excellence). CHIME provides free, daily music instruction to some of the region’s most disadvantaged students—students who might not otherwise have the opportunity or income to seriously pursue music. Through CHIME, ESYO hopes to ensure the musicians of tomorrow are as diverse as the communities they inspire.
ESYO is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that is largely supported by private funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations, and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Its administrative office is located at Proctors in Schenectady and, although the music education/performance schedule follows the school year, the administrative office is open throughout the year.
ESYO envisions exceptional youth ensembles and orchestras that reflect the diversity of our vibrant communities, and that share a joyful passion for music making.
ESYO values musical excellence as a joyful pursuit, accessible to all regardless of socioeconomic conditions.
ESYO is a community catalyst for artistic celebration and innovative collaboration.
ESYO's Strategic Plan
2024 Strategic Plan (PDF)