Youth Symphony


Students generally spend more than one year in each ensemble.  We welcome students taking lessons through the Duke University String School and students taking private lessons in the local community to participate in the DUSS String Orchestras.

Conductor: Shelley Livingston

The Duke Youth Symphony is a full symphony orchestra that performs original works from the standard repertoire while refining orchestral technique.  Musicians in this orchestra (strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion), demonstrate advanced ability on their instrument.  String players should have facility in three octave major and minor scales and arpeggios, be comfortable shifting to high positions, and be able to use advanced bow strokes such as tremolo, spiccato, and sautillé.  Violists and cellists should also be comfortable playing in multiple clefs and all musicians should also be able to tune their own instruments.  Horns and trumpets should be comfortable with standard transpositions.  All students should be able to play with a wide dynamic range and musical maturity in a range of styles and a depth of musical interpretation.  The orchestra performs with guest artists, alumni and primarily student soloists.

Audition guidelines: 

  • Each instrumentalist will be asked to play a 3 or 4 octave major scale, 3 or 4 octave minor scale, and three minutes of a solo piece of your choice. 
  • Memorization of the scales and solo piece is preferred.  Students will also be asked to play a sight-reading example.
  • An example of appropriate solo string repertoire is as follows.  These pieces are not requirements, but examples of difficulty level:
    • Violin: Csardas by Monti, Bach Partitas and Sonatas, Any Mozart Concerto, Haydn C major Concerto, Preludium and Allegro, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Balshem Suite by Bloch, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, Lalo Violin Concerto, Barber Violin, etc.
    • Viola: Stamitz Concerto, Bach Suites, Bloch Meditation and Processional, Hummel Concerto, Walton Viola Concerto.
    • Cello: Any A. Vivaldi Concerto, Goltermann Concertos, Sammartini Cello Sonata in G (first or last movement), J. S. Bach unaccompanied Suites, Boccerini Concerto in B-flat, Saint Saens Concerto no. 1 in A minor.
    • Bass: 2-octave major and minor scales, Misek Sonata No. 2, Schubert Arpeggione Sonata D.821, Dragonetti Concerto, Dittersdorf Concerto in Eb major, Capuzzi Concerto, Bach Suite no.1, Koussevitsky concerto (or 4 Pieces), Bottesini Concerto No. 2 in B minor. (ASTA CAP level 4-6)
    • Woodwinds, Brass: will be asked to play a 2-octave scale, solo piece and sight-reading.
    • Percussionists: should prepare three short solos (one each on snare, timpani and a mallet instrument). These should be very short selections from a piece or an orchestral excerpt.  There will also be sight-reading.