The Emory Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO) program was founded in 2005 at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. As one of the finest pre-college programs in the region, EYSO provides comprehensive orchestral performance opportunities while supporting the pedagogy of school directors and private teachers. All students and parents are offered the opportunity for pre-college counseling, assistance with college and scholarship applications (including Common App and other recommendations), diverse masterclass and seminar offerings, and financial aid advice.

Apart from serving as dedicated members of their school orchestra and band programs, EYSO students go on to study a variety of disciplines at the college level, including top conservatories (Curtis, Juilliard, NEC, Colburn) as well as at nationally-ranked liberal arts colleges and universities. EYSO students are also regular participants in the country’s finest summer music festivals, including Interlochen, Tanglewood, NYO & NYO2, Brevard, Eastern, Sewanee, and others.

The orchestra is open to string, wind and percussion musicians from 9th-12th grade. Audition information for the 2022-2023 season can be found here.

The home of EYSO is the world-class Schwartz Center for Performing Arts on the Emory University campus. Members perform under the musical direction of Emory Director of Orchestral Studies Dr. Paul Bhasin. Students receive regular sectional instruction from Emory’s Vega Quartet (the University’s String Quartet-in-Residence), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Artist Affiliates, and other Atlanta orchestral professionals. The orchestra performs three concerts during the school year in Emory’s renowned Emerson Concert Hall.

In the 2009-2010 season, the orchestra and its members were featured on From the Top, National Public Radio’s program dedicated to the most outstanding young musicians in the country. EYSO has been featured at Spivey Hall, has performed with guest soloists from the Atlanta Symphony and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras and has appeared in concert with Emory University’s String Quartet in Residence, the Vega Quartet. In 2014, the orchestra began a regular tour cycle with a performance at New York’s Lincoln Center attended by major donors and supporters of the program, Donna and Marvin Schwartz and Ted Turner. In 2017, EYSO travelled to Chicago to perform at Northwestern University and participate in masterclasses with distinguished faculty including members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and in 2019, EYSO toured to Nashville, performing Respighi’s The Pines of Rome at Belmont University.

The EYSO program also offers students annual enrichment and college-preparatory opportunities, including mock audition seminars with guest panelists, our annual Concerto Competition, and regular guest coachings (comprising both sectional & large ensemble) with Emory and Atlanta Symphony faculty. Recent masterclass artists include Ray Chen, Zuill Bailey, Daniel Hope, Roberto Diaz, and Gail Williams, as well as

Peter Winograd, Violin, American String Quartet and Manhattan School of Music
Cornelius Chiu, Violin, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
James Dunham, Viola, Rice University
Jonathan Vinocour, Principal Viola, San Francisco Symphony

Additional Masterclass Artists from Recent EYSO Seasons

David Grossman, Bass – New York Philharmonic, Principal Bass, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Michael Tiscione, Associate Principal Trumpet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Timothy Higgins, Principal Trombone, San Francisco Symphony
Jonathan Vinocour, Principal Viola, San Francisco Symphony
Christina Smith, Principal Flute, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Cornelius Chiu, Violin, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
William Johnston, Principal Viola, Atlanta Opera Orchestra
Julianne Lee, Principal Second Violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Guy Piddington II, Trumpet, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Sergiu Schwartz, Violin, Columbus State University
Jay Christy, Assistant Principal Second Violin, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Elizabeth Koch Tiscione, Principal Oboe, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Jessica Valeri, Horn, San Francisco Symphony
Nathan Zgonc, Acting/Associate Principal Trombone, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Matthew Schlomer, Conductor, Interlochen Arts Academy
James Zellers, Principal Flute, Atlanta Opera
Jason Eklund, Principal Horn, Atlanta Ballet
Scott Pollard, Percussion, Con Legno & Emory University
Laura Ardan, Principal Clarinet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Giselle Martin, Director of Recruitment and Talent, Emory University Admissions
Joanna Kaczorowska, Violin, SUNY Stony Brook, New York Chamber Musicians
Anthony Georgeson, Associate Principal Bassoon, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Amy Pollard, Principal Bassoon, Atlanta Ballet, Professor, Univ. of Georgia
Guang Wang, Cello, Vega String Quartet & Emory University
Karen Freer, Acting Associate/Assistant Principal Cello, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Michael Kurth, Bass and Composer, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Emily Brebach, Oboe/English Horn, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Marci Gurnow, Clarinet, Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Michael Moore, tuba, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Gaye LeBlanc, harp, University of Oklahoma
Elena Cholakova, Dir. of Piano Studies, Emory University
Adam Luftman, Principal Trumpet, San Francisco Ballet & Opera
Zachary Cohen, Principal Bass, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

The EYSO participation fee for 2024-2025 is $750. Members are expected to enroll in their school’s instrumental ensemble music program for the entire school year. Home schooled students or students attending a school where there is no ensemble program must be recommended to EYSO by a private teacher or school official.

Rehearsals are held throughout the school year on Wednesdays from 7:30-9:30pm in the Tharp Rehearsal Hall of the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts at Emory University. Rehearsals begin immediately after the August audition period. The EYSO concert and rehearsal schedule allows students to also participate in other local youth ensembles such as the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra.

The EYSO Concerto Competition is open to members of EYSO only. The winning student performs with the orchestra on the last concert of the season. Recent winners include:

Didi Stone (2024) Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Sasha Tarassenko (2023) Mozart Flute Concerto
Jeremiah Jung (2022) Sibelius Violin Concerto
Skyler Feng (2021) Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue 
Timothy Cho (2020) Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1
Evan Nicholson (2019) Dvorak Cello Concerto
Ben Rau (2017) Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations
Mia Pattillo (2016) Grieg Piano Concerto
Kaegan Gregory (2015) Borne Carmen Fantasy for Flute and Orchestra
Carly Weikle (2014) Weber Concertino for Clarinet
Christina Bae (2013) Grieg Piano Concerto
Amanda Ake (2012) Bruch Violin Concerto
Sam Lee (2011) Elgar Cello Concerto
Benito Thompson (2010) Saint-Saens Violin Concerto No. 3
Melissa Ake (2009) Vieuxtemps Violin Concerto No. 5 in A minor
Blake Johnson (2008) Dvorak Cello Concerto in B minor


“Performing so many different orchestral works over the last three seasons has been such a fantastic experience for me as a clarinetist. Our recent tour to Chicago, with performances in new concert halls, helped me to gain confidence as a performer. I especially loved having the opportunity to perform Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony in two different halls!”
-Eric Wang, Clarinet (Attending Yale University)

“I’ve really enjoyed performing large-scale orchestral works over the last few years with EYSO. It was a great chance for me to make amazing music and great friends as well. I appreciated how each week our EYSO rehearsals were a chance for a group of like-minded musicians to come together.”
-Chris Chung, Bassoon (Attending Colburn Conservatory of Music)

“EYSO exposed me to really great repertoire that helped me develop both the louder, heroic side of my instrument as well as the gentler, tender side. Having the opportunity to perform the Strauss Serenade on the chamber winds concert was a totally new experience for me. That concert program gave me the chance to blend with other wind and brass instruments in a totally new way. Our Chicago Tour masterclasses and trip to Navy Pier was incredibly memorable!”
-Sean Turner, Horn (Attending The New England Conservatory)

“My experience in EYSO has been life-changing. The varied orchestral repertoire we are exposed to here is incredible. In addition, this year we performed the Strauss Serenade in a chamber winds setting which is something I had never done before  – and was a great challenge.  EYSO showed me how to lead a wind section, which is something I really worked very hard on.”
-Mekhi Gladden, Oboe (Attending The Curtis Institute of Music)