The mission of the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras and Ensembles is to provide young musicians of Central Iowa an opportunity to expand their musical and social perspectives while performing challenging, yet age-appropriate repertoire.

Participation in the Youth Orchestras builds upon the musical instruction students receive through their private lessons and school music programs. Musicians audition in August for Des Moines Youth Orchestras Conductors, who determine appropriate orchestra placement. Mid-season auditions are offered in December for musicians participating in fall sports. Musicians must be enrolled as active participants in their school music program to be eligible for participation in the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras.

Youth Ensembles

  • Youth Jazz Orchestra
    Youth Jazz Orchestra Age: Grades 9-12 Dates: Wednesdays, 5:00 - 6:30 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $225 (Jan - May)

    Led by Academy alumnus Nate Sparks, our new Youth Jazz Orchestra will provide high school musicians with a progressive big band experience on repertoire surveying historic and current Swing, Latin and Backbeat Jazz styles. 

    Lessons in theory, harmony and improvisation techniques included in all rehearsals. 

    How to Audition

    Auditions will be held on Wed Dec 15 at The Temple for Performing Arts.  

    General Audition Expectations

    To schedule an audition, please use the link below to find availble audition times, then email the following information to us at joshua@dmsymphony.org to confirm your audition: 

    Available Audition Times

    1. Musicians Name
    2. Requested Audition Time
    3. Grade (2021-2022)
    4. Instrument 

    Register for Youth Jazz Orchestra

  • Academy Cello Choir
    Academy Cello Choir Instructor: Liudmila Lebedeva Age: 12 - Adult Dates: Saturdays Time: 3:00 -4:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $175 per 10-week session

    Our Academy Cello Choir provides musicians with an opportunity to explore cello ensemble repertoire while developing individual musicianship and ensemble playing skills. Participating cellists will rehearse and perform works ranging from adaptations of pieces from the symphonic repertoire to original compositions written for cello choir. 

    Register for Academy Cello Choir

  • Preludio Strings
    Preludio Strings Instructor: Matt Meyer Age: Grades 1 - 4 Dates: September - May Time: Thursdays 4:45 PM - 5:30 PM Location: Temple for the Performing Arts Tuition: $350 per school year

    Preludio Strings is designed to provide young string players with their very first ensemble experience. Through rehearsal and performance on unique music materials created exclusively for them, Preludio Strings musicians will receive thoughtful guidance in laying the foundation for effective ensemble skills.

    Membership is open to any young musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass who are currently in Suzuki book 1 or who have completed their first year of orchestra at their school.

    Recommended Ability Level: Suzuki book 1 or completion of first year of school orchestra

    Register for Preludio Strings

  • Youth Sinfonia
    Youth Sinfonia Instructor: Matt Meyer Age: Grades 4 - 6 Dates: September - May Time: Tuesdays 4:45 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $450 per school year

    Youth Sinfonia is an exciting opportunity for beginning string players. Through rehearsal and performance on a variety of repertoire, Youth Sinfonia musicians will develop their technical and musical skills while learning to play together as an ensemble.

    Membership is open to any young musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass. A minimum one year playing experience is required. Youth Sinfonia musicians will work mainly in first position.

    Recommended ability levels: Suzuki book 2–3, reading music, shifting through 3rd position for 1st violins, keys of C, G, D, F

    Register for Youth Sinfonia

  • Youth Philharmonic
    Youth Philharmonic Instructor: Michele Senger Age: Grades 7 - 9 Dates: September - May Time: Tuesdays 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $450 per school year

    Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is the next step up from Youth Sinfonia. It offers a unique orchestral experience for the talented, intermediate string player. Participation in Youth Philharmonic will offer the necessary building blocks for excellence in all your musical endeavors.

    Membership is open to any intermediate musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass.

    Recommended ability levels: Suzuki books 4–6, shifting through 3rd position, demonstrating vibrato and a variety of bowing techniques

    Register for Youth Philharmonic

  • Youth Symphony
    Youth Symphony Instructor: Joseph Giunta Age: Grades 10 - 12 Dates: September - May Time: Mondays 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $500 per school year

    Youth Symphony provides a unique orchestral experience for advanced high-school musicians in Central Iowa. Under the guidance of Maestro Joseph Giunta, Music Director and Conductor of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Symphony provides the only full orchestral experience for pre-professional musicians in the Des Moines area.

    Participation in this group promotes a top-notch musical experience through the study and performance of standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary works. The Youth Symphony performs at least two concerts during their season.

    Membership is open to dedicated high school musicians playing standard orchestral instruments.

    Recommended string ability levels: Suzuki books 7+, shifting past 5th position for all violins and violas, thumb position knowledge and harmonics for cello and bass, ability to play in all keys

    Register for Youth Symphony

  • Youth Wind Ensemble
    Youth Wind Ensemble Instructor: Robert Meunier Age: Grades 9 - 12 Dates: November - May Time: Mondays 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $450 per school year

    Youth Wind Ensemble provides motivated and accomplished high school woodwind, brass and percussion musicians with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and leadership skills through the study of traditional and cutting-edge wind ensemble repertoire under the musical direction of Robert Meunier, Director of Bands at Drake University. 

    Register for Youth Wind Ensemble

  • Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles
    Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles Age: Grades 9 - 12

    Advanced students from the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras may be chosen to participate in the following ensembles:

    Honors Brass Quintet coached by Casey Maday
    Honors Piano Trio coached by John Helmich
    Honors String Quartet coached by Mary Pshonik
    Honors Woodwind Quintet coached by Jennifer Wohlenhaus

    Register for Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles

  • Zauberflöte
    Zauberflöte Instructor: Anne Stein Age: Advanced high school Time: Sunday afternoons Tuition: $175 per 10-week session

    Zauberflöte is an elite flute ensemble selected by audition only and includes up to five flutists. The group rehearses year-round and performs extensively throughout the Des Moines area. Past members include students in flute degree programs and members of college and university ensembles. The “Zauberflöte Experience” is intended to challenge, stimulate and inspire advanced flutists with playing and leadership skills and grow as performers.

    Register for Zauberflöte