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NYO-USA Orchestra Application

The National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) invites young musicians ages 16–19 to audition for its 2021 season. All application materials must be submitted using an online form administered by Acceptd, a service that provides a digital audition platform to many performing arts schools. In order to start the NYO-USA application, you will need to create an Acceptd account. (If you already have one, you can start a new application using your existing account.) Once you create an Acceptd account, 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 the required application videos to make certain they represent your playing as effectively as possible.

The NYO-USA 2021 application is now closed.

More National Youth Ensembles


  • June 1, 2020: Audition excerpts posted for 2021 program
  • September 10, 2020: Application officially opens
  • November 12, 2020: Application deadline
  • December 1, 2020: Recommendation deadline
  • January 28, 2021: Applicants notified of status via email; audition feedback provided shortly thereafter
  • Mid-May 2021: Audition excerpts posted for 2022 program
  • July 2021: Program begins


NYO-USA will be accepting applications for the 2021 season on all standard orchestra instruments. Based on the repertoire, we do not anticipate accepting harp and keyboard applications for the 2021 season.

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 Acceptd. Fee waiver requests must be received no later than November 1, 2020.

Application Requirements

  • Audition Videos (details below)
  • Biographical Essay: In approximately 200–300 words, describe your background and musical/educational experience, including how participation in NYO-USA would help you achieve personal or artistic goals.
  • Recommendations: You will be asked to enter email addresses for two required references; a third is optional. Each reference 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 Acceptd (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 and should select the best of several takes). All videos must be recorded within eight 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. Many past participants have recorded successful applications using iPhones or other smartphones. 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 a spoken introduction in which you state your name, instrument, hometown, and 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 three 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. You may perform your solo work with or without accompaniment.
  • Excerpts: Include one video per work of the required orchestral excerpts for your instrument. Wind players wishing to demonstrate proficiency on an auxiliary instrument should include the relevant excerpt. Please note that if there are two excerpts from the same movement, we prefer that they be uploaded as one video segment. Excerpts for the 2022 season will be posted in mid-May 2021.
  • Video Essay: Please record an answer to one of the following questions.
    • What is a non-musical interest or activity that you are passionate about and why?
    • What musician (of any genre) most inspires you and why (or how)?
    • What is your favorite non-musical creative work (book, painting, poem, movie, etc.) and why does it speak to you?


Citizenship: 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 2021, this means your birthdate must be between July 1, 2001, and June 30, 2005, without exception. Please note that if you are under 18 at the time that you apply, the consent of your parent or guardian is required.

Grade Level: Participation in NYO-USA is limited to high school students within the age range above. You must be enrolled in high school or the equivalent level of homeschooling during the 2020–2021 academic year to be eligible for the 2021 NYO-USA program. Gap-year students who graduated from high school in 2020 (or earlier) are not eligible.

Travel Arrangements

Invited students and their parent/guardian(s) are expected to arrange air or ground transportation to attend the NYO-USA program, traveling to/from the New York City area on designated arrival and departure dates. (If applicable based on the tour flight itinerary, the option to depart from NYO-USA via an airport outside of New York may be provided.) Each student must also arrange to have a valid passport by the deadline provided for visa and other travel requirements. Assistance to cover these travel costs is available in cases of financial need, and information about how to apply for a travel award will be provided to accepted applicants.

All other travel associated with participation in NYO-USA, including international and domestic flights between tour cities, airport transfers, sightseeing excursions, and all other ground transportation (including any activities during the residency period taking place outside of the Purchase College campus) is arranged and paid for by Carnegie Hall.

Lead Donors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, Marina Kellen French and the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Kovner Foundation, Beatrice Santo Domingo, and Nicola and Beatrice Bulgari.

Global Ambassadors: Hope and Robert F. Smith, and Maggie and Richard Tsai.

Major funding has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Carl Jacobs Foundation, JMCMRJ Sorrell Foundation, and Joyce and George Wein Foundation, Inc.

Additional funding has been provided by Sarah Arison, The Jack Benny Family Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Mary Anne Huntsman Morgan and The Huntsman Foundation, and IAC.

Blavatnik Family Foundation

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; Hope and Robert F. Smith; Sarah Billinghurst Solomon and Howard Solomon; and Joan and Sanford I. Weill and the Weill Family Foundation.

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