New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra

Coached by New Jersey Symphony musicians, the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra gives qualified middle- and high-school students—especially Black and Latino youth in the Greater Newark area—unparalleled opportunities to achieve personal and musical excellence.

2024–25 Youth Orchestra Season

Auditions for the 2024–25 season have concluded. Thank you to all who auditioned! Candidates will receive notification of their status by June 18.

To receive priority notification about fall auditions, click the button below to apply. Current audition requirements can be found here.

Rehearsals will take place on Saturdays beginning October 2024 at the Cali School at Montclair State University. Students from the Greater Newark area are welcome to ride a free shuttle bus between Newark and MSU.

Questions? Please email and a member of the Education team will respond.

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About the Program

As the resident youth orchestra of the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra brings together students of all skill levels who share a passion for music. There are four performing ensembles that are sequential in level, creating a pathway for students to flourish and grow under the guidance of the Symphony’s expert faculty:

Go behind the scenes of the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra 2018–2022 seasons through a spotlight series presented by M&T Bank.

John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University

The John J. Cali School of Music is a comprehensive, professional school of music centered on preparing the creative leaders of tomorrow. The school is dedicated to a premier artistic and academic education. The Cali School offers exceptional conservatory-level training in best-in-class facilities. Students choose from majors in performance, jazz studies, composition, music education, recording arts + production, and music therapy and study with world-class musicians dedicated to their artistic and personal growth.

Youth Orchestra Benefits

In addition to great music making across four performing ensembles, benefits of the program include:

  • Coaching by New Jersey Symphony musicians
  • Musicianship training
  • Flexibility especially designed for students in marching band
  • Volunteer opportunities and mentorship training
  • Additional performance opportunities for advanced students
  • Complimentary tickets to select New Jersey Symphony concerts
  • Supportive peer-to-peer environment

Rehearsal Days & Locations

In 2023–24, Youth Orchestra ensembles will rehearse in-person on Saturdays from 9:30 am–3:00 pm (exact time depends on ensemble placement).  

In-person rehearsals take place at John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University. Students from the Greater Newark area are welcome to ride the free shuttle bus provided by the Symphony from Newark to MSU.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should my child/student prepare for the audition?
Click here for auditions requirements and orchestral excerpts that should be prepared, along with a solo piece. We recommend that your child prepare by playing the notes accurately and following the indicated tempo and dynamics; that the artistry and interpretation of the solo piece is appropriate to their level; and most importantly, that they play with confidence!

What should my child/student play for his/her solo piece?
A solo piece should be a piece that best represents his/her current playing abilities. Please review the audition requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. The solo piece does not need to be memorized, and will be performed unaccompanied (there is NO piano available.) Solo pieces should be 2–3 minutes in length. Longer movements for more advanced students are fine, but please be aware the adjudicators may stop the student before the movement is complete, for time’s sake.

Will my child/student need to play all of the orchestral excerpts?
Your child/student should prepare all of the orchestral excerpts listed under the requirements for the ensemble for which he/she will be auditioning. It is up to the adjudicators’ discretion whether or not all excerpts will be played during the audition. 

Is there an audition fee?
No. There is no fee to audition for the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra.

How much does participation in the program cost?
For the participation fee structure, please contact

Do you accept students with little or no playing experience?
The New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra offers instruction for beginner/preparatory strings and advanced beginner winds, brass and percussion to students in the Greater Newark area only, through our Training Ensemble. In addition. the program provides: 1) subsidized instrument rentals of string instruments only (a $75 instrument fee is charged per student; payment plans are available); and 2) musicianship training for all students.

What if the audition deadline has already passed?
Occasionally, there will be openings during the season for select instruments. Contact to find out if there are openings for your instrument.

Join the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra Alumni Network

Are you among the program’s alumni? We would love to reconnect with you!

We invite you to fill out this brief questionnaire and join our Facebook group.


Graduating Classes

Class of 2023

Read about the graduates from the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Class of 2023.

More Info

Class of 2022

Read about the graduates from the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Class of 2022.

More Info

New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra Artistic Leadership

A group of dedicated professionals leads the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Meet the Team

Sponsors make this program possible. Thank you!

  • Frank and Lydia Bergen Foundation
  • Broadbridge Foundation
  • Marjorie Bunnell Charitable Fund
  • Richard H. Holzer Memorial Foundation
  • The Harold I. and Faye B. Liss Foundation
  • M&T Bank
  • Merck Foundation
  • New Jersey State Council on the Arts
  • NJM Insurance
  • Pio Costa Foundation
  • Turrell Fund
  • Verizon
  • Victoria Foundation
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This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.