• Application Process

    Orchestra | Apprenticeships | Assistant Conductor


    Since 2014, Carnegie Hall has offered NYO-USA apprenticeships to students in roles beyond instrumental positions to explore key aspects of the orchestral field. For 2016, positions are available for an apprentice music librarian, an apprentice orchestra manager, two apprentice conductors, and two newly added apprentice composers. Open to students ages 16–19 who meet the same eligibility requirements as prospective NYO-USA instrumentalists, these rare opportunities are ideal for musicians who are interested in the possibility of taking their musical experience in a new direction. Apprentices will work alongside NYO-USA’s artistic and administrative staff and gain direct experience in their respective crafts. Apprentice conductors and composers will spend three weeks with NYO-USA at Purchase College in 2016, approximately June 25–July 16. The apprentice librarian and orchestra manager will additionally join the orchestra on tour to continue to support the production and operations of NYO-USA through concerts and cultural exchange activities in Europe, between July 17 and 27. All apprentices are considered members of NYO-USA and share in all accommodation, meal, and travel arrangements with their fellow musicians. Apprenticeships are tuition- and expense-free, with the exception of the cost of the student’s travel to/from the New York City area at the start of the program and at the conclusion of the tour. (Financial aid is available for this travel expense to applicants demonstrating substantial financial need.)

  • Orchestra Library Apprentice

    Orchestra librarians have the important role of preparing all of the music a symphony orchestra uses in rehearsal and performance—researching available editions, ensuring the material is as accurate as possible and marked consistently for all players and conductors, and preparing parts so that the bowings are in sync, to mention just a few key responsibilities. NYO-USA’s orchestra library apprentice will receive first-hand experience working alongside Paul Beck, NYO-USA's principal orchestra librarian, during the orchestra’s residency and tour. The apprentice also will explore this little-known profession through meetings and conversations arranged by NYO-USA with leaders in the field. The interest and background of the apprentice will help shape the experience offer to the apprentice, in order to introduce aspects of the field that are of special relevance. Mr. Beck is currently the principal orchestra librarian at The Juilliard School and has also worked with the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, and Mostly Mozart Festival. In addition, he is concert librarian for Renée Fleming, for whom he prepares orchestral parts used throughout the world.

    The successful candidate for this apprenticeship will have a strong interest in printed music, the ability to read full scores, and strong organizational skills and attention to detail.

  • Orchestra Management Apprentice

    This apprenticeship is an opportunity to work alongside NYO-USA's orchestra personnel manager and other artistic and administrative staff to learn about the planning and execution of an orchestra’s activities in rehearsals and the successful presentation of concerts. Orchestra personnel managers are musicians who serve as the key liaison between and among conductors, players, and other administrative personnel. The apprentice will assist with seating assignments and rotation, rehearsal orders and timings, backstage logistics, and preparation of venues for rehearsals and concerts. He or she will also have a window into the larger planning of an orchestral tour, particularly from the perspective of ensuring that the artistic needs of the musicians are addressed as fully as possible.

    The successful candidate will have experience as a member of instrumental ensembles, a general familiarity with orchestral music, and excellent communication and organizational abilities.

  • Apprentice Conductors

    Two apprentice conductors will have a unique opportunity to receive mentoring in orchestral conducting from NYO-USA’s music staff, including Orchestra Director James Ross, and the 2016 Assistant Conductor. They will attend all orchestra rehearsals during the Residency as well as observe sectional rehearsals and faculty coaching. Some aspects of the apprenticeship may be tailored to the musical background of the student chosen, but it is expected that score study sessions and very limited podium time will be offered. The conducting apprentices are also expected to have a role in understanding and supporting orchestra operations for NYO-USA and may be asked to assist the Music Library staff or the management team with relevant administrative functions.

    Candidates are not expected to have orchestral conducting experience but should be able to demonstrate substantial instrumental experience and strong musicianship, as well as leadership potential. After reviewing audition submissions, James Ross and NYO-USA staff may conduct interviews via Skype prior to making a final selection.

  • Apprentice Composers

    Two apprentice composers will be invited to spend three weeks with NYO-USA and its faculty and staff, and will be asked to bring one or more scores to Purchase College to be read/workshopped with musicians from the orchestra. One of the goals of the apprenticeship will be to give the composers experience with orchestration and writing for larger forces, and to create opportunities for dialogue between instrumentalists and composers who are peers. Other aspects of the apprenticeship are still being designed.

    Celebrated American composer Sean Shepherd, who wrote a new work (Magiya) for NYO-USA’s inaugural season in 2013, will serve as a teacher and mentor to the apprentices. Shepherd has recently held composing fellowships with The Cleveland Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, and has had a series of notable premieres with Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Flux Quartet at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble.

  • Timeline

    • November 10, 2015: Application opens
    • January 14, 2016: Application deadline (at 11:59 PM in your respective time zone)
    • January 21, 2016: Recommendation deadline
    • February 11, 2016: Applicants are notified of their status

    How to Apply


    Students may apply for one or all apprenticeships based on their interests and experience. If you are applying for the Apprentice Conductor and/or Apprentice Composer position in addition to the Orchestra Library and/or Orchestra Management Apprenticeship(s), a separate application for the Apprentice Conductor and/or Composer position is required. There is no fee to apply, and a short application form must be completed online by January 14, 2016. If you are under the age of 18 at the time of your application, permission of a parent or guardian is needed.

    • Biographical Essay

      Approximately 400-500 words, this essay should describe your musical background and interest in the apprenticeship(s).

    • Recommendations

      You will be asked to enter e-mail addresses for your recommenders—two are required, a third is optional. They will receive a link to an online recommendation form after you submit your completed application. Please note that this e-mail will be sent directly from Decision Desk (not Carnegie Hall or NYO-USA). Your references will have until January 23 to complete and submit their confidential recommendations. References who can address both your personal and musical qualities, such as your music teacher(s) and/or ensemble conductor(s), are preferred. While one music reference is required, your second reference can be academic or non-music related.

    • Audition Video

      Orchestra Library and Management Apprenticeships

      • Please record an answer to one of the following:

        1) What composer do you most identify with, and why?
        2) Describe your most memorable musical experience.

      Composition Apprenticeships

      • Please record an answer to one of the following:

        Tell us about a piece of art (in any genre – performing arts, visual arts, architecture, film) that really took hold of you from the first moment you experienced it. Does that kind of experience inform the music you compose?

      Composition Apprenticeship Score Requirement

      During the media upload step of the application, apprentice composer applicants are also required to submit 2 original scores (PDF files only please) for any size ensemble. If possible, please include a piece that shows some experience with varied instrumentation/orchestration. You may also upload video and/or audio recordings of your music if available but candidates will be judged on their written scores and there is no expectation that recordings will be submitted.

      Conducting Apprenticeship

      • Conducting apprentice applicants to NYO-USA are required to record a series of audition videos, similar to that of instrumental applicants, with the content outlined below. Each performance segment must be recorded in one take with no editing (though you may select the best of several takes). Professional equipment and/or studio space is not necessary for a successful application to NYO-USA. With attention to a few details, your music making can be conveyed using readily available consumer electronics. Please refer to our Video Guidelines for additional information and suggestions for effectively recording your audition.
      • Introduction
        Before performing your solo selection on your primary instrument, please include an introduction stating your name, your hometown, and the title of the solo work you have chosen.

      • Solo Piece
        The solo may be any work of your choice, or a movement/section of a longer work, provided it is approximately three minutes in duration. If the piece is longer than 3 minutes, you may record an excerpt or submit an unedited three-minute section from a longer recording. You may also use a recent solo recording if it meets the NYO-USA audition requirements, but please record and upload the spoken introduction separately. A work with piano accompaniment (except if you are applying on harp or percussion) is strongly preferred.

      • Instrumental excerpts
        One video per work of the required orchestral excerpts for your primary instrument, based on the 2016 NYO-USA instrumentalist requirements which are available to download here. Please note that if there are two excerpts from the same movement, we prefer that they be uploaded as one video segment.

      • Conducting example
        Please recording yourself conducting and singing, simultaneously, the opening of the following excerpts:

        • Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune (1–16)
        • Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (third movement: 77–134, including repeat)
        • Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 22 (first movement: 1–46)
        The relevant pages of the score may be downloaded here. This should be recorded without any accompaniment (i.e. with no pianist or recording, just you conducting and singing).


      • Optional
        If you have a video of yourself conducting a live group of musicians, please include a 3-minute excerpt of what you consider your best conducting.

      • Video essay
        Please answer the following two questions in a video statement:

        • How is a conductor different from and/or similar to the members of the orchestra she/he leads?"
        • Imagine yourself as a 30-year-old professional and respond to the question "How did your musical experiences during your high school years lead to your being the successful musician you are today?"
  • Apprenticeship Eligibility


    NYO-USA is open to US citizens or permanent residents (Green Card holders) from all backgrounds.

    Age Limit

    You must be between the ages of 16 and 19 during the summer of your participation. For 2016, this means your birthdate must be between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2000, without exception. Please note that if you are under 18 at the time you apply, the consent of your parent or guardian is required.

    Music Study

    If you are enrolled full-time in a college-level conservatory or music department with instrumental performance as your major (or intended field of study), you are not eligible to join NYO-USA. There are no other educational or performance requirements for NYO-USA eligibility. Please see specific examples below:

    You are not considered a full-time music student if you

    • study part-time at or take lessons through the pre-college or preparatory division of a music school or conservatory
    • are enrolled in a performing arts high school, regardless of your course of study
    • are enrolled in a college, university, or conservatory degree program in a field outside of instrumental performance (including all non-music majors, voice, music education, composition, musicology, etc.)
    • have been accepted by and plan to enroll in a college, university, or conservatory instrumental performance program, but will not begin full-time studies until after July 2016

    You are considered a full-time music student if

    • you are enrolled (or will be prior to June 2016) in a college, university, or conservatory music-degree program, with instrumental performance as your major or intended field of study if you have not yet declared a major (including double majors with an instrumental performance specialization)
    • regardless of your age, you are enrolled (or will be prior to June 2016) as a full-time student in a non-degree conservatory or music school diploma program beyond the preparatory level, with instrumental performance as your primary field of study
  • National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America Founding Sponsor:

    Bloomberg Philanthropies (June 17, 2015)

    Founder Patrons: Blavatnik Family Foundation; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation; Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation; The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Family Foundation; Ronald O. Perelman; Robertson Foundation; Robert F. Smith; Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon; and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

    Additional funding has been provided by the Jack Benny Family Foundation for Music Education; and Andrew and Margaret Paul.

  • More Information

    Frequently Asked Questions