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Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra

Brett Mitchell, Music Director   

Cleveland Orchestra Youth OrchestraThe Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) was founded in 1986 to provide talented young musicians from across Northeast Ohio with a pre-professional orchestral training experience of the highest possible artistic standard.  Since then, the Youth Orchestra has performed 150 concerts and provided a musical home to more than 1,300 talented young musicians of middle-school and high-school age.  Youth Orchestra members are coached regularly by Cleveland Orchestra musicians.  A member of the Cleveland Orchestra conducting staff serves as the COYO music director, and rehearsals and concerts take place in historic Severance Hall.  Youth Orchestra members also have opportunities to meet and work with guest artists and conductors appearing with The Cleveland Orchestra.

The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra is a full symphonic ensemble comprised of approximately 100 young musicians.  Players are drawn from more than 35 communities in 9 counties across Northeast Ohio.  The Youth Orchestra presents three subscription performances, a side-by-side concert with The Cleveland Orchestra, and several community concerts each year.  Each season since 1991, one of COYO's concerts each season is a collaboration with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, providing students of both ensembles with a broader repertoire and performing experience.  In addition, a chamber music program provides COYO members with additional artistic and performance opportunities through the intimacy of chamber music, while simultaneously giving the Youth Orchestra a greater presence in the community. 
Already in its short history, the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra has celebrated many milestones and been recognized for its achivement in education and experiences for the young musicians involved.  In June 1998, COYO was one of only five youth orchestras from across the United States to be selected to participate in the second National Youth Orchestra Festival sponsored by the League of American Orchestras.  In March 2001, at the invitation of Carnegie Hall’s education director, COYO appeared on Carnegie's Family Concert series in New York City.  In June 2009, COYO completed its first tour, performing four concert in and around \Boston, Massachusetts.  In May 2011, COYO celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a special Alumni Reunion weekend, featuring an orchestra concert performed by COYO alumni.  In June 2012, with touring support provided through the Vinney Fund gift to The Cleveland Orchestra's endowment, COYO traveled on its inaugural European Tour, with concerts in Prague, Vienna, and Salzburg.  In the 2012-13 season, COYO was invited to close-out the day-long festivities celebrating radio station WCLV’s 50th anniversary with a live radio broadcast.  Also during the 2012-13 season, COYO was selected to perform at the Ohio Music Educators Association’s annual conference in Columbus, Ohio.

The Youth Orchestra is supported by a generous grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, and by gifts from many other generous donors.  Endowment support is provided by The George Gund Foundation, Christine Gitlin Miles, and the estate of Jules and Ruth Vinney.

Membership & Audition Information

Membership is by audition only. Auditions are open to all middle- and high school students who study privately and are prepared to make a commitment to an ambitious schedule of rehearsals and performances. Auditions take place at Severance Hall in May. Auditions are about 10 minutes in length and are heard by the youth orchestra music director and members of The Cleveland Orchestra.

Audition materials can be found on the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra’s website. For more information or to receive audition materials by mail (brochure, application and orchestral excerpts), please contact the Education Department at 216-231-7355, the Youth Orchestra manager at 216-231-7352, or email

When requesting an audition packet, please provide the following:

  • Student’s full name & current grade 
  • Student’s home address & e-mail address
  • Student’s instrument

2014-15 Youth Orchestra Concerts at Severance Hall

Autumn Concert
Sunday, November 23, at 8:00 p.m.
Musical works by Adams, Harris, and Tchaikovsky.

Winter Concert, with the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus
Sunday, February 8, at 7:00 p.m.
Musical works by Fauré, Ravel, and Debussy.

Spring Concert
Friday, May 3, at 8:00 p.m.
Musical works by Barber and Bartók, plus the winner of this seasons's concerto competition.

Youth Orchestra Website

Additional information about the youth orchestra, including audition information, history, and artistic staff, can be found at the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra website.