• Application Process

    Orchestra | Apprenticeships | Assistant Conductor


    The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America invites young musicians (ages 16-19) to audition for its 2017 season. All application materials must be submitted using an online form, administered by DecisionDesk, a service that provides a digital audition platform to many performing arts schools and programs. The application for 2017 will be available September 7, 2016. Once you create your account with DecisionDesk, you will be able to start the NYO-USA application and save your progress at any point. If this is your first experience with an online digital audition service, we encourage you to allow enough time to upload and review your videos so they represent your playing as effectively as possible.


    • April 27, 2016: Audition excerpts for the 2017 season available
    • September 7, 2016: Application opens
    • November 1, 2016: Application deadline (at 11:59 PM in your respective time zone)
    • December 1, 2016: Recommendation deadline
    • February 3, 2017: Applicants are notified of their status via email; audition feedback is provided shortly thereafter
    • Late June/Early July 2017: Program begins


    NYO-USA is accepting applications for the 2017 season on all standard orchestral instruments, including harp.

    Alumni Representatives

    A cross-section of NYO-USA alumni have generously offered to be a resource to new applicants to the program. They would be happy to share information about their experience in NYO-USA or offer collegial advice about the audition/application process. Musicians are listed by instrument with their year(s) of participation, hometowns, and email addresses. Please be respectful of their time when contacting them and continue to address all procedural or technical questions relating to the application, or general program inquiries, to nyo-usa@carnegiehall.org.

    Application Fee

    There is a $30 application fee, payable online via major credit card at the time you fully complete and submit your application. To apply for a fee waiver on the basis of financial need, please email a completed fee-waiver application to nyo-usa@carnegiehall.org before you submit your application. Upon approval, we will provide you with a promo code to be entered during the payment step of your application on Decision Desk. Fee waiver requests must be received no later than October 20.

    Application Requirements

    • Audition Videos (details below)
    • Biographical Essay: Approximately 200-300 words that describe your background and musical/educational experience and addresses how participation in NYO-USA would help you achieve personal or artistic goals
    • Recommendations: You will be asked to enter email 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 email will be sent directly from Decision Desk (not Carnegie Hall or NYO-USA). Your references will have until December 1 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.

    Audition Videos

    All applicants to NYO-USA are required to record a series of audition videos that include 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). All videos must be recorded within 8 months of the application deadline. 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.

    Required video segments:

    • Introduction:  Before performing your solo selection, please include an introduction stating your name, your instrument, 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, orchestral keyboard, or percussion) is strongly preferred.
    • Excerpts: One video per work of the required orchestral excerpts for your instrument, music for which will be provided by NYO-USA at a later date. Wind players wishing to demonstrate proficiency on an auxiliary instrument should include the relevant excerpt, which is optional. Please note that if there are two excerpts from the same movement, we prefer that they be uploaded as one video segment. Download excerpts here ›
    • Video Essay: Please record an answer to one of the following:

      Describe your most memorable musical experience. 
      What non-musical activity are you deeply passionate about and why?
      Pick a performance or historical event that you wish you could have witnessed and explain the reasons you would have liked to be there.



    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 2017, this means your birthdate must be between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 2001, 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 2017

    You are considered a full-time music student if:

    • you are enrolled (or will be prior to June 2017) 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 2017) 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


  • The application period for 2017 has ended. Stay tuned for updates about the 2018 program.

  • 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; Andrew and Margaret Paul; and Jolyon Stern and Nelle Nugent.

  • More Information

    Frequently Asked Questions