Founded in 1923, the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras are the oldest Youth Orchestra in Canada. The aim of our founding fathers was to provide young and aspiring musicians from across Manitoba with the opportunity to play music in an orchestral setting. Due to changes in school programming over the years, we are now the only musical organisation to offer this opportunity to musicians of school age in the province of Manitoba and so we play a vital role in supporting youth musicians.
Originally formed of a single orchestra group, the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras have grown over the intervening years to meet the needs of the local community. We now consist of three orchestra groups, the Youth Strings (Junior), the Youth Concert Orchestra (Intermediate) and the Youth Symphony Orchestra (Senior). The program is open to students between the ages of 8 and 21, and we currently have 170 students enrolled in the program. Entry into the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras is by audition only, with the auditions held annually in April and September for both new and existing members.
We offer a stimulating and enriching musical program for our students during the course of our season which runs from September until April. Each orchestra rehearses once a week as a group and has numerous highlights throughout the season.
A few of our seasons highlights include, but are not limited to:
- Holiday Concert held annually in early December
- Annual adjudicated scholarship competition in December
- Masterclass program where our students receive musical instruction from professional musicians taken from all across the globe
- Annual Spring tours to schools across Winnipeg and surrounding areas
- Sounds of Spring Concert held annually in April at Centennial Concert Hall
We strive hard to involve the local community in our activities so that we can bring the joy of classical music to a wider audience and so in addition to our two main concerts we give a number of smaller concerts at Seniors Homes and in Downtown Winnipeg as part of the Skywalk series.
Within Winnipeg, we have strong ties to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Virtuosi Concert Series (University of Winnipeg) and the University of Manitoba Orchestra. In addition, an increasing number of our players participate in the annual Winnipeg Music Festival and more recently in the International Cello Festival of Canada. All these connections enable us to offer our students the best possible musical experience during their time in the program. Furthermore and continuing in the footsteps of many former WYO musicians before them, it is exciting to learn that three new hires into the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra this year are former WYO alumni which just goes to highlight the central role we play in the musical tapestry to be found in Winnipeg today.