Youth Symphony

Youth Symphony on stage.


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.

The Duke Youth Symphony is a full symphony orchestra made up of student string players and adult volunteer winds, brass, and percussionist players. The YS performs original works from the standard repertoire while refining orchestral technique. Musicians in this orchestra 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 sautill√©. Violists and cellists should also be comfortable playing in multiple clefs and all musicians should also be able to tune their own instruments. All musicians 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.
    • Students interested in being a leader will play excerpts chosen each year for each section during audition weekend. Excerpts are sent to registered students approximately 1 month before the audition dates. Auditions for leadership occur each year, and students who were leaders the previous year will also need to audition for leadership if they are interested in being leader again.
      • Violin leaders come from the 1st violin section and must audition into the 1st violin section in order to be a leader. Violinists who are already in the 1st violin section of their orchestra need only prepare the leadership excerpt to audition for leadership. Violin leaders rotate between leading the 1st and 2nd violin sections.
  • An example of appropriate solo string repertoire is as follows.  These pieces are not requirements, but examples of difficulty level:
    • Violin: Csardas by Monti, 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 Concerto, etc.
    • Viola: Stamitz Concerto, Bach Suites, Bloch Meditation and Processional, Hummel Concerto, Walton Viola Concerto.
    • Cello: Any A. Vivaldi Concerto, Goltermann Concerto No. 4 (1st mov't), Sammartini Cello Sonata in G (first or last movement), J. S. Bach unaccompanied Suites Nos. 3-6, 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)