Youth orchestras around Boston area

Edited: July 8, 2020, 10:57 AM · I saw the recent thread on youth orchestras around Chicago. Very informative. I have a similar question but about the Boston area. My son is around the pre-Bruch level. He has orchestra experience but is thinking to move up. We wonder what would be a good choice.

Around Boston, we learned there are BYSO (Boston Youth), BPYO (Boston Phil Youth), NEC prep, RYO (Rivers Youth) and TYP (Tufts Youth Phil). RYO requires scales: all 3-octave major scales for the top tier; scales up to 4 sharps/flats for the second tier (same for TYP). The BYSO audition page mentions positions: all positions for the top two tiers; up to 5th position for a tier lower. The BPYO and NEC prep websites say nothing specific. All these seem vague. My son's violin teacher basically says to try everything, but she cautions NEC prep is sometimes disorganized. What are the typical levels of students in each orchestra/ensemble? Also, for anyone who has been to these orchestras, what is your experience? Thank you in advance.

Replies (3)

Edited: July 8, 2020, 1:05 PM · I have no direct experience with any of them, but I believe BPYO is run by Benjamin Zander, who is an inspiring conductor and speaker but has a history of questionable hiring decisions that would give me pause when considering whether to send my child there - he founded BPYO after he was fired from NEC for knowingly hiring a convicted sex offender with crimes against teenagers to videotape the youth orchestra's performances, and one of his artistic advisors was later arrested for possessing child pornography. This article's a bit sensationalistic but has some of the details https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/11/05/troubles-amount-cancer-boston-philharmonic/Xn5EG3duBMjeK1OPtuoOlJ/story.html .
July 8, 2020, 1:16 PM · The news these days...
Edited: July 10, 2020, 8:11 PM ·

NEC and BYSO each have several tiers of orchestras. At some point, you will want to figure out which one to aim for and what will be required to get in. But between the senior group that tours and the 5-year-olds, there is quite a spread. If you show up with what you can do, there will likely be a slot somewhere. I don't know who is running the NEC prep now that Ben has started his own group. But BYSO (one of my alma maters) is doing quite well, and has a fabulous music director.


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