If you’re looking to add to the orchestra experience your child has at school, youth orchestras are the way to go! Or, perhaps your child attends a charter school or homeschool program that doesn’t have a music program and you want them to have the experience of playing with a group. Luckily, the Denver metro area has several options for both children and adult violinists, violists, and cellists! Here is some information on the local youth orchestras, as well as a new orchestra for adult learners. You’ll also find a few summer camp programs as well!
Auditions for these are typically held in May, so this is the time to start preparing. Preparing for an audition gives students a goal to practice toward and something to be held accountable for.
1. The Front Range Youth Symphony rehearses at the Arvada Center for the Arts. The lower three groups rehearse on Wednesday afternoon/evening, and the top group practices on Tuesday evenings. This is the youth orchestra that most Silver Strings Students participate in, because of the location. They have four orchestras to choose from: Academy Strings, Concert Strings, Chamber Orchestra, and Symphony. I’ve really enjoyed the stylistic variety that Javan Carson has brought to the Concert and Chamber Orchestras. She chooses music from all around the world, rock music, jazz, and Latin composers! The students really enjoy this fun, but challenging experience. The lower level orchestra, Academy Strings, is perfect for students who have never played in an ensemble before, or students who are still working on reading music. The lower three ensembles are all strings, and the Symphony is a full symphonic orchestra with winds and brass.
Auditions are held in early May, Julie Payne is the contact person [email protected] and audition requirements are linked below:
FRYS Ensembles Audition Information
2. Another fantastic program is Greater Boulder Youth Orchestra. If you live closer to Superior or Boulder, this Orchestra may be more convenient for you. They rehearse on Monday afternoon/evenings. GBYO has four groups as well, including a wind ensemble, and the top two groups are full symphonic orchestras with winds and brass. Students who participate in GBYO can also join chamber groups like quartets and quintets that perform in the Boulder community. Auditions are held in May and August. So, if you miss out on May auditions for FRYS, this can be a good alternative! If your child is considering going to CU Boulder for music, they would get to work with the conductor, Gary Lewis, in the top group of GBYO. Here is a link to audition requirements.
3. If you’re closer to Englewood, Lakewood, or South Denver, you may really like the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestras. One nice thing about CYSO is that they have rolling, year-round auditions- so you can contact them and schedule an audition over zoom at any time of the year! CYSO has three levels of ensembles and is a very supportive environment for students. If your child struggles with anxiety, this is probably the orchestra that would be the best fit for him or her. Click here for information on their audition process!
4. The Denver Young Artist Orchestra is the most competitive orchestra on the Front Range. They offer three levels of orchestras, and they are a top-notch group! DYAO even has a concerto competition! Several Silver Strings students have joined DYAO in the past, and this is a great group to join if a student is considering studying music in college. To determine which orchestra is right for your child, consult their Instrument Proficiency Standards.
Is a Youth Orchestra right for your child? Maybe!
If your child isn’t challenged enough at school, a youth orchestra can give your child a group to be accountable to, and more music to practice. Many students make friends in these groups that they have for years to come. If your child’s school doesn’t have a music program, then a youth orchestra is a great way to get some group playing experience. I’ve noticed that students who have both private lessons and play in an ensemble are most likely to continue playing their instrument through high school; so joining a group can help with more at-home practice, help students to stay interested, and are just a fun unique extra-curricular activity. However, if your child is already overloaded with sports or other activities, then it’s probably best to postpone joining a youth orchestra until it can be a fun, and not stressful experience.
There is an all-new orchestra for adult learners called Denver Adult Strings Camp! This program is ideal for adults who can play in first and third positions. They rehearse in the evenings, after normal working hours. It’s about the level of a typical middle school ensemble. They also have a chamber group for more advanced students.
Summer Camps: Summer camps can be a great way to get a little extra music learning in over the summer months! There are camps that cater toward classical music, and some that cater more toward fiddling. Here are some of the many camps that Colorado has to offer.
- The University of Colorado Boulder has two non-audition week-long camps: one for middle school, and one for high school musicians. Many Silver Strings students have participated in this camp over the years, and we are glad that it’s back for 2022! Click here for more information on this fun musical experience. This can be a sleepaway camp or a day camp, depending on your preference.
- Rocky Ridge has a variety of fantastic programs for both children and adults. It is located in Estes Park. They cater to all levels, and they even have a mariachi and jazz camp. My students who have attended this camp have nothing but great memories! This year, their adult program is limited to pianists.
- Rustic Roots is a week long camp for adults interested in folk and fiddle music. It is held in the San Luis Valley in July, and has some fantastic teaching artists. Many of my friends who are professional musisians attend this camp to extend their knowledge of folk music. I highly recommend this camp!
- CYSO Chamber Music Camp– This is a great first chamber music camp for students who have never played in a quartet before. It’s a day camp held at Metro State University in Denver. Students are coached by members of the Colorado Symphony and get to perform in a recital at the end of the week.
5. Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp is a great fiddle camp near Colorado Springs for beginning to intermediate-level players, both adults and children. They have a wide range of classes, and you don’t have to have any previous fiddle experience to attend the camp!
6. Blazing Fiddles- This week-long camp is in Loveland and is run by Vi Wickham, who is a prizewinning fiddler. There is a youth level and a teen level for more intermediate fiddling. I can’t find information on 2022 dates yet, but feel free to contact Vi for up-to-date information.
This doesn’t come close to covering all of the orchestra and fiddle camps in Colorado, but these are some that my students have attended in the past that are still accepting students. I wish all of you a musical summer!