Childrens' Orchestras

Parent Q&A

  • Current Reviews of Youth Orchestras?

    (3 replies)


    My son is a violinist and looking to join a group of other kids who love playing music.  We'd love to put him in a youth orchestra, if possible.  Does anyone have anything to say about any of the youth orchestras out there?


    Not sure of your child’s level. There are several wonderful opportunities for group orchestra. I have two kids in ypco. One is in the advanced orchestra and the other in chamber. It’s a nice community of kids and parents. The music is great, the conductors awesome, and the other kids welcoming and fun. All are committed musicians. Come to a free concert this Saturday at 11 at St. John’s on college ave. Feel free to email me for more information. The fall season starts early September 

    abphd [at]

    My son had a great experience in YPSO (Young People's Symphony Orchestra).  I was amazed at the breadth of the students who participated - all the way to Modesto.

    Maestro David Ramadanoff has high expectations, and the students work hard to meet them.  Also, interesting and exciting tours to places like Europe and Carnegie Hall.

    Hi, you didn’t say how old your child is or how long they’ve been playing violin, but Berkeley Youth Orchestra (BYO) can accommodate younger musicians all the way through high school. Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, and Young People’s Symphony Orchestra start with generally somewhat older/more advanced players. All of the youth orchestras are rigorous in terms of commitment and expectations, and these 3 are all great. The current conductor of BYO has the warmest personality of the 3 conductors, and the current conductor of OSYO is the least warm. All 3 conductors are wonderful and brilliant and dedicated. BYO would be an excellent place to start for a first time orchestra experience. Their season is the shortest, Sept-beginning of May. OSYO’s season goes to late May, YPSO goes into June. Please make sure your kid wants to be there! Kids who don’t want to work hard generally don’t have great experiences in any of the youth orchestras! One of the violin coaches (who coaches for at least 2 of these 3 orchestras) is very strict and “old-school.”  She often raises her voice at the kids and makes fun of them, etc. That can be hard on lots of kids. Others seem to take it more in stride. Best wishes to you and your young musician!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Young Peoples' Chamber Orchestra

April 2009

Young Peoples' Chamber Orchestra is an inspiring, non-competitive three-tiered youth orchestra. The main orchestra, for string players ages 10-14, meets Saturday mornings from 10:00 to 12:00, with small chamber ensembles meeting for an additional hour (9:00 to 10:00 or 12:00 to 1:00). We also have a preparatory ensemble for younger, less experienced musicians. Both of these groups rehearse at St. John's Presbyterian Church on College Avenue. Our Senior Chamber Symphony, which meets Monday evenings at All Souls in north Berkeley, is for high school string and wind players.

YPCO musicians come together from all over the Bay Area. YPCO's conductor, Rem Djemilev, is a member of the Arlekin String Quartet and an instructor at the Crowden School in Berkeley. He also conducts the Young Performer's String Orchestra and the Diablo Regional Youth Orchestra in Walnut Creek, and plays in many chamber groups and orchestras in the Bay Area.

We hold auditions each May and on a rolling basis, and offer a lovely small Saturdays-only summer program at St. John's from mid-June through July. For further information, please call or e-mail:

Deborah Schmidt manager [at] YPCO phone number: (510)595-4688