Youth Symphony

For very advanced high school and college-age students, the Youth Symphony is the flagship orchestra of the EYSO. Its repertoire has included Mahler: Symphony No. 1 and Todtenfeier, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Revueltas’ Sensemaya, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 6 (in 2014, the premiere performance by an American youth orchestra), Phillip Glass: Symphony No. 7 (first performance by a youth orchestra), and other symphonies including Sibelius 2, Shostakovich 1, 5, and 9, Beethoven 5 and 7. The 2019 season focused on Bartok’s magnificent Concerto for Orchestra.

Youth Symphony members are drawn from a wide geographic area and enjoy the thrill of collaborating with other dedicated, high-caliber musicians. Artistic Director Matthew Sheppard has conducted North and South America, including the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional del Paraguay, the Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra, and the Lake Geneva Symphony. As an educator, conductor, and clinician, he is highly regarded for his passionate musicianship and technical ability, and he regularly leads masterclasses on playing and conducting in Chicago and abroad.

In addition to his tenure at EYSO, Sheppard serves on the committee of the Illinois Comprehensive Musicianship through Performance (IL CMP) Project. CMP is the pedagogical approach that EYSO conductors and coaches use in delivering the EYSO mission to create a community of young musicians, enriching their lives and the lives of their families, schools, communities and beyond, through the study and performance of excellent music. 

The Youth Symphony was showcased on NPR’s “From the Top”, performed with both violin superstars Midori and Rachel Barton Pine, and was featured at the Ravinia Festival in an unprecedented four appearances. In 2012, the Youth Symphony embarked on a ten-day Civil War Tour, combining moving performances with in-depth exploration of some of the “big ideas” of this historical period—a Youth Symphony specialty.


Rehearses Sundays, 6:15-9:00pm.
Performs during the 7:00pm concerts in November, March, and May.