There are 14 different ensembles in the weekly program. Our SYO Strings Program caters for string players beginning at AMEB grade 1 or equivalent and our Symphonic Orchestral Program caters for string, brass, woodwind and percussion players beginning at AMEB grade 5 or equivalent. Our most senior orchestra is The Sydney Youth Orchestra which is for musicians who are AMEB AMusA minimum standard or equivalent. To find out which ensemble is best for you read our 2020 Auditions Brochure.
If none of the orchestras are right for you, you might want to come to our 2020 Summer School. Registrations open on October 1 and you can fill out this Expression of Interest form to stay up-to-date.
Rehearsals take place at Santa Sabina College, Strathfield on Saturdays and Sundays, and at Parramatta Town Hall on Tuesday evenings.
For most SYO auditions you will be expected to play a short piece of your own choice, a set number of orchestral excerpts depending on your instrument and preferred ensemble, as well technical work (scales, arpeggios, etc.) and sight-reading. Please read our Auditions Tips about how best to prepare for your audition, and for things to remember on the day. If you decide to audition, please read the audition excerpt cover sheet very carefully for further instruction.
It is most common for SYO members to spend two years in an ensemble before progressing to the next ensemble. SYO members are encouraged to audition for the ensemble most immediately above their current ensemble. This is to ensure you are auditioning on excerpts that cater for your abilities.
For new applicants, it is a little harder for us to guide you. Please look at the guidelines listed on the 2020 Auditions Brochure and consult with your instrumental teacher prior to applying, as they will have the best idea of which ensemble will be the most appropriate for you.
Auditions are 5-7 minutes long.
This should be a 2-3 minute unaccompanied piece (or a 2-3 minute passage from a longer piece) that best displays your musicality and technical proficiency. It is strongly advised that this piece be from within an examination syllabus such as AMEB, Trinity College London or ABRSM. You are also encouraged to choose something you are familiar with and can perform comfortably under pressure and without an accompanist.
Sometimes an audition panel may wish to hear a particular passage, or may stop you halfway through your piece. This does not mean that you have played badly or ‘failed’ the audition. It simply means that the panel has heard enough of your playing to help them make their decision.
Once your audition application and fee has been processed you will receive an email with a link to your Audition Excerpts.
The audition panel places auditionees on the basis of their playing ability as demonstrated in their audition only, not their AMEB or Suzuki grades. Grades are used as a commonly-understood standard of playing to assist auditionees in selecting the right ensemble to audition for. Auditionees do not need to have passed exams to gain a position – nor does having passed an exam guarantee a player a position.
If your second instrument is auxiliary like piccolo or bass clarinet, you will not be required to audition for a separate audition panel and so will not be required to pay a second audition fee. If you are auditioning on two different instruments eg. violin and oboe, you will be auditioning in front of two different panels on different excerpts and so you will be required to pay two audition fees. However, musicians who wish to audition on viola, double bass or bassoon in addition to their primary instrument are entitled to a free audition for this secondary instrument as part of SYO’s Endangered Instruments program.
This information will be sent to all applicants by start of October. Other key dates are listed here.
All existing SYO members re-applying will be charged a $50.00 audition fee. Applicants new to SYO will be charged a $60.00 audition fee. These fees are payable at the time of your audition application and contribute to the booking of professional panelists, venue hire and administration for your audition. Find more information on fees here.
Like all state-based youth orchestras in Australia, we audition all players each year on a competitive basis. Competitive auditions are the accepted method of equitably assessing an orchestra’s members and ensuring that players of similar ability are placed together. There are two main reasons that we audition each year:
– Individual players progress at different rates. Placements are based on playing ability in the context of all auditionees, not on membership length. Each year there will be some players from an ensemble who are ready to face the challenges of another ensemble and some who will benefit more from continuing with their current group.
– There are new members auditioning for Sydney Youth Orchestras each year. By hearing all players, new and existing, auditioning for an orchestra, we can be sure that our standards are high, and that placement is fair and appropriate for everyone. This provides balance within each ensemble and maximum benefit for its members.
Yes. SYO, with the very generous support of the SYO Foundation and many private donors, will provide a number of full or partial scholarships. These scholarships will support young musicians and their families who face financial hardship or circumstances that would otherwise prevent them from joining SYO. To receive more information and a scholarship form, be sure to check the appropriate box on your online audition application.
Sydney Youth Orchestras’ policy states that if there are two players of the same standard competing for a place and one is an existing member, preference is given to that member. However, if the new member auditions at a higher standard than the existing member, this does not apply.
The audition panel will make seating recommendations at the time of audition, which are adjusted when positions are accepted. There is no compelling musical reason to place players from strongest to weakest – in fact just the opposite. In the SYO we often rotate players around, and in particular, this notion is encouraged in our younger ensembles. Players learn to play next to different players, and also learn that an orchestra is made up of equally valuable sections.
Because of the way SYO is structured, we are able to offer a position to most string players who audition for the program, however this will not necessarily be in the ensemble for which you applied. Based on your performance in your audition, the SYO audition panel will allocate you a position within the ensemble that will be most beneficial for you and allow you to work with other musicians of a similar standard and experience.
For wind, brass and percussion, positions can be much more competitive, particularly for The SYO and SYO Philharmonic, as there are a limited number of positions for each instrument within these orchestras.
Unless you are ill or have an exam, no. We have over 900 people to audition in a very short time. Professional musicians are engaged for audition panels and have limited availability. Dates and times are set so that auditionees will perform to the most appropriate panel. If you have an exam scheduled on the day of your audition, you must notify us as soon as you are aware of the clash. Written evidence is required to change your audition date or time for either reason. If you miss your audition without one of these reasons, or without providing written evidence (i.e. medical certificate), you will be considered to have forfeited your audition and you must contact SYO to arrange another audition.
An ‘endangered instrument‘ is any uncommon instrument that is in high demand within orchestras – not only at SYO, but within tertiary and professional orchestras around Australia! It can be difficult to find the right number of musicians for certain instruments; such as violas, bassoons and double basses. This also means that we need to restrict the number of violin or flute players that we can accept, or otherwise the whole orchestra will be unbalanced.
Musicians who play these ‘endangered instruments’ will often find that they are placed on an accelerated track through the SYO program due to the demand for these instrumentalists.
Dependent upon the instrument, SYO can help you transition to one of these endangered instruments, by offering:
• A free audition to this new instrument when auditioning for your current instrument
• Loaning* you an instrument for a period of six months
• Connecting you to a tutor
* dependent on availability
All information gained through the audition process is private and confidential. Sydney Youth Orchestras will not enter into a conversation that concerns an applicant’s audition results with the applicant, their parents or teachers. This mirrors the audition processes in the music profession and Sydney Youth Orchestras strives to prepare musicians for the reality of professional audition and performance standards and procedures.