• Frequently Asked Questions

    Who, What, When, Where, and How


    Who can be part of NYO-USA?

    NYO-USA is open to US citizens or permanent residents (Green Card holders) from all backgrounds. 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. Additionally, 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. (Please click here for further information about eligibility.)

    What is the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America?

    NYO-USA is a program for orchestral players ages 16-19 created by Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. Each summer, a group of the country's most talented young instrumentalists comes together to interact with each other, learn from an all-star faculty, play under the direction of a celebrated conductor, and tour to different parts of the world, playing in some of the most famous concert halls. As a member of NYO-USA, you will be a musical ambassador, representing your home school/ensemble, your state/region, and your country.

    When is the program?

    NYO-USA is a summer program, scheduled each year for three and a half to four and a half weeks between late June and mid-August, depending on the tour destination and itinerary. The dates for 2016 will be June 25 - July 16. Because of the intensive nature of the program, no absences for any part of this period are permitted.

    Where does the NYO-USA training residency take place?

    NYO-USA is in residence at Purchase College, SUNY, for the first three weeks of the program. Located in Westchester County, 30 miles north of New York City on 550 scenic acres, Purchase College has outstanding rehearsal and practice facilities, including a conservatory music building and a highly regarded, multi-venue performing arts center, where all full orchestral rehearsals will take place. The college's newest residence hall ("Fort Awesome") houses players during the first two weeks of the program.

    Where will the orchestra tour?

    NYO-USA tours to a different part of the world each year, following kick-off concerts at Purchase College and Carnegie Hall. In 2016, NYO-USA will embark on a European concert tour to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Montpelier and Prague. The orchestra's third  tour in 2015 took NYO-USA on a tour of China. 

    Will NYO-USA play at Carnegie Hall?

    Yes, NYO-USA will perform annually in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage before embarking on its tour.

    How do I apply?

    Please see application instructions.

    How will my application be evaluated?

    Applications will be reviewed based on the applicant's technical ability, musicianship, passion, willingness to collaborate, intellectual curiosity, willingness to travel, and social and emotional maturity. As a national orchestra, NYO-USA expects to include a broad range of highly qualified participants from across the country to reflect the exceptional diversity of the United States.

    Eligibility

    Are there any exceptions to the age requirement?

    No, you must be between the ages of 16 and 19 during the summer of your intended participation.

    Are there positions for my instrument?

    NYO-USA will be a full-sized symphony orchestra of about 120 players. Musicians may apply on the following instruments: violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, and percussion (including timpani). In certain years, based on repertoire, there may be positions for other instruments. The 2016 orchestra includes positions for harp and orchestral keyboard.

    May I apply on more than one instrument?

    Yes, but a separate application is required for each instrument. Please note that auxiliary instruments (such as piccolo, English horn, and bass clarinet) do not require a separate application. However, if you are proficient on one of these instruments, we encourage you to include the applicable excerpt (to be provided by Carnegie Hall) on your audition video.

    Why are full-time music students excluded?

    The mission of NYO-USA is to offer a unique experience to some of America's best young players. This kind of opportunity, while available in part at some conservatories and university music programs, has never been offered to American musicians in their pre-college years, nor to those who are highly accomplished players but choose not to make performance the main focus of their studies in college.

    Will I be able to participate in NYO-USA more than once?

    Yes, as long as you still meet the eligibility requirements. Please note that all players are required to re-apply and submit a new audition video each year.

    Why are temporary US visa holders ineligible for NYO-USA?

    As a national youth orchestra, NYO-USA is designed for young musicians who have a permanent and ongoing connection to the United States of America. Students or other dependents temporarily in the United States are ordinarily able to join their home country youth orchestras. Additionally, because of the nature of international touring and restrictions on the issuance of foreign-country visas to temporary residents of the US, all NYO-USA members must have permanent residency status in the United States.

    Application Process

    My solo is longer than three minutes. Is that okay?

    While you can select a three-minute excerpt from a longer work or recorded performance, please keep your solo submission as close to the three-minute mark as possible. We receive a large number of applicants, and our review panel listens carefully to all auditions. It is not possible, however, for them to listen to submissions considerably longer than the three minutes requested.

    May I put two short pieces together to make my three minute solo submission?
    May I create a solo submission made up of highlights from a longer recording?

    We prefer that you submit one continuous recording.

    Do both of my references need to be musicians?

    No, just one of them must be. While general music teachers, orchestra directors, or private instructors are all acceptable as musical references, an academic instructor or other non-music reference may be invited as well.

    Are we required to submit three references?

    No, only two are required. If you feel a third reference may be able to add a different perspective to your application, you are welcome to include one.

    My video recordings are not professional quality-will this hurt my chances?

    No. We understand that not everyone has the means to provide a professional video recording, and our goal is to make this program accessible to all who wish to apply. As long as the applicant is clearly visible and audible, your audition will be judged on its musical merits and not on its production values. Most auditions, including successful auditions, have been recorded using basic home video equipment.

    May I send additional information about musical and/or personal accomplishments after the application deadline?

    We are unable to consider any supplemental application materials received once the application has closed, since the review process begins immediately after the deadline.

    Guests Artists and Faculty

    Who is the conductor of NYO-USA?

    NYO-USA has no permanent music director and is led by a different renowned conductor each summer. For the first time since NYO-USA was founded, the orchestra will be led by two conductors in 2016: Christoph Eschenbach and Valery Gergiev. Eschenbach, who is the music director of both the National Symphony Orchestra and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, leads the orchestra in its first two performances at Purchase College, SUNY, and Carnegie Hall. For its European concert tour, the orchestra will be led by Gergiev, who also conducted NYO-USA in 2013 and is principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Mariinsky Theatre. In addition to Gergiev, past conductors of NYO-USA are Charles Dutoit (2015), conductor laureate of The Philadelphia Orchestra and artistic director of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony.

    Who are the faculty for NYO-USA?

    Musical preparation during NYO-USA's residency will be overseen by orchestra director James Ross, who will lead the full ensemble in initial readings and rehearsals. Working with individual instrument groups will be a dream team of principal players from top American orchestras, who will coach sectional rehearsals and share perspectives on their lives as professional musicians. The 2016 faculty will be announced early next year. Click here to view the 2015 faculty.

    Other

    What else can I expect as part of my NYO-USA experience?

    The NYO-USA program will include social and recreational time, seminars on broader topics relating to the tour program and itinerary, and opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange and sightseeing while on tour.

    Are there any fees or costs to me associated with NYO-USA?

    NYO-USA is a tuition-free program for all musicians. The program provides room and board during the residency and covers all expenses related to instructional, rehearsal, performance, and tour activities (including tour-related visa costs, airfares, and other transportation, as well as hotels, meals and group sightseeing).

    There is an application fee of $30, payable online at the time you complete your application. Additionally, accepted applicants will be responsible for arranging their own travel to and from the New York City area at the start and conclusion of the program, and for the costs of obtaining/renewing their passport.

    For those applicants who demonstrate substantial financial need, the application fee may be waived upon completion of a waiver request form. Carnegie Hall staff will respond to waiver requests within 10 business days of the receipt of a completed form and provide further instructions to applicants whose requests are approved. The deadline for completion of applications with or without a fee waiver, for summer 2016, is November 4, 2015.

    Financial aid may also be available to successful applicants for whom the travel costs associated with participation in NYO-USA present a financial hardship. Additional details will be available upon acceptance.


  • Founder Patrons: Blavatnik Family Foundation; Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari; 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; Beatrice Santo Domingo; 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; Andrew and Margaret Paul; and Jolyon Stern and Nelle Nugent.