Orchestra Program

The MYAC orchestral program provides students from kindergarten through 12th grade with an unparalleled music experience! Students are exposed to orchestral literature at the earliest of ages and are able to grow through a comprehensive program that provides musically advanced students with the opportunity to perform literature on par with professional orchestras around the world. Orchestral students have the chance to perform in many of Chicago’s premiere performance venues with world-renowned conductors and guest artists. All students enrolled in the Orchestra Program may participate in tuition-free theory classes. Students in Concert and Symphony Orchestra are required to participate in chamber music ensembles where they can strengthen their listening and ensemble skills. MYAC also offers tuition-free Instrumental Performance Classes and Master Classes for Concertino, Philharmonia, Concert, and Symphony Orchestra students with guest artist-teachers.

All theory classes are held before or after rehearsals based on placement evaluation.

Reading Orchestra

Under the direction of Rhona Reagen, Reading Orchestra is MYAC’s entry-level orchestra. Reading Orchestra is a string-only group that focuses on teaching the basics of reading music and playing in an ensemble setting. The enrollment is kept smaller to facilitate a closer teacher and student relationship. Conductor Rhona Reagen stresses concepts such as recognition of pitch, rhythmic accuracy, and basic ensemble skills.

An Audition is not required for Reading Orchestra.

Register for Reading Orchestra

Reading Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Cadet Orchestra

Cadet Orchestra is comprised of strings, winds, brass, and percussion students primarily from grades 4 through 7. Conductor Patrick Pearson stresses the importance of developing beginning rhythmic and intonation skills in an ensemble and the ability to listen to others while performing.

Audition Requirements for Cadet Orchestra

Sign Up for an Auditon for Cadet Orchestra

Cadet Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Concertino Orchestra

Concertino Orchestra is MYAC’s beginning-intermediate performing orchestra for strings, winds, brass, and percussion students between grades 5-8. Conductor Patrick Pearson emphasizes developing and perfecting rhythmic and intonation skills in an ensemble.

Audition Requirements for Concertino Orchestra

Sign Up for an Auditon for Concertino Orchestra

Concertino Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 9:30am – 11:00am

Philharmonia Orchestra

Philharmonia is MYAC’s intermediate full orchestra. There are approximately 75 students between the grades of 5-9. Under the direction of Patrick Pearson, Philharmonia stresses the importance of rhythm, intonation, dynamics, and balance. Previous repertoire includes Beethoven Symphony No.5, Haydn’s Symphony No. 104, and Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

Audition Requirements for Philharmonia Orchestra

Sign Up for an Auditon for Philharmonia Orchestra

Philharmonia Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

Concert Orchestra

Under the direction of conductor Dr. Allan Dennis, Concert Orchestra is MYAC’s upper-level orchestra with approximately 100 members with a full string section (including harp), winds and brass, and percussion. These students are primarily in grades 6-11 with excellent musicianship. Every year, Concert Orchestra has the opportunity to accompany the Walgreens Concerto Competition Junior Division winner during their concert series. During the 2011-2012 season, Concert Orchestra appeared side by side with the Ballet Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Previous repertoire includes Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Schubert’s Symphony No.9, and Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.5. All Concert Orchestra members are required to be available for placement into a chamber music ensemble that meets within two hours before or three hours after orchestra rehearsal or on a mutually agreeable alternate date.

All Concert Orchestra members are required to be available for placement into a chamber music ensemble that meets within two hours before or three hours after orchestra rehearsal or on a mutually agreeable alternate date.

Audition Requirements for Concert Orchestra

Sign Up for an Auditon for Concert Orchestra

Concert Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra is the most advanced orchestra at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. It is comprised of over 110 talented young musicians, primarily in grades 10 to 12. All students who are in grades 9 and under are required to also participate in Concert Orchestra. Directed by Dr. Allan Dennis, the Symphony Orchestra represents the highest musical quality of any youth orchestra anywhere in the world.

The Symphony Orchestra has performed at prestigious venues all over Chicago such as Lyric Opera House, Symphony Center, Harris Theatre for Music and Dance, Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and many more. Repertoire includes works by Mussorgsky, Mahler, Hindemith, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bernstein, among others.

All Symphony Orchestra members are required to be available for placement into a chamber music ensemble that meets within two hours before or three hours after orchestra rehearsal or on a mutually agreeable alternate date.

Audition Requirements for Symphony Orchestra

Sign Up for an Audition for Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra Rehearsals: Saturday, 12:00 – 3:00pm

Honors Ensembles

Please see below for more information. Also, please note that Students in Honor Ensembles must both be in Symphony Orchestra and able to commit to all rehearsals and concerts in order to participate.

I’Solisti MYAC

Directed by Charlie Pikler, I’Solisti MYAC is a small, select chamber orchestra of soloists chosen to perform a series of concerts in public schools and special venues during each season. Participating students are given scholarships and have the opportunity to perform a movement from a concerto on this concert series. The ensemble is audition based. The minimum instrumentation is six violins; two violas; two cellos; one bass; and winds, brass and percussion as determined by the Director.

Early Music Academy

The Early Music Academy is a select chamber orchestra dedicated to the performance of music composed before 1800. Often the members of this group perform on period instruments, and once yearly the Early Music Academy performs with a world class soloist such as Mathieu Dufour, principal flute of the CSO, Charles Pikler, former principal viola of the CSO, and David Douglass, the director of the Newberry Consort.

New Music Ensemble

The New Music Ensemble is a small, select chamber orchestra that plays great works of the 20th and 21st centuries, including World Premiere’s of MYAC commissioned works by composers such as Gary Fry and Max Raimi. These premiere works are often performed with the solo virtuosity of guest artists such as Charles Pikler and Mathieu Dufour.


Age Policy for Orchestra Program
MYAC’s Orchestra Program strives to foster the highest quality musical experience possible for students in all its orchestras. To that end, there are times when younger students are occasionally allowed to perform in an “older” orchestra. Since the social interaction among orchestra and chamber music participants is also an important consideration when placing students in an ensemble, it is the policy of MYA to require all students at certain ages/grades be placed in an age-appropriate orchestra, where they are challenged to be leaders of that orchestra. Students who are allowed to participate in “older” ensembles are also required to perform in their age-appropriate group, at no additional financial cost. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Chamber Music Policy for the Orchestra Program
A requirement for participation in the Concert and/or Symphony Orchestras is that students be available to participate in the Chamber Music Program if they are assigned to a chamber music ensemble. Exceptions to this policy are to be requested in writing and submitted with justification for the exception at the time of submitting an Intent to Participate form in April or, for new students, at the time they are accepted and return the Intent to Participate form. Students who do not participate in the MYA Conservatory Orchestra Program may be assigned to a chamber music ensemble when an opening cannot be filled with current MYAC orchestra members. However, MYAC orchestra members receive first priority.

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