As one of the finest pre-college programs in the region since its founding in 2005, EYSO supports the pedagogy of school directors and private teachers while providing additional performance opportunities and ensemble experience. All students and parents are offered the opportunity for pre-college counseling, assistance with college and scholarship applications (including Common App and other recommendations) 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, BUTI, NYO, Brevard, Eastern, Sewanee, and others.

The orchestra is open to string, wind and percussion musicians from 9th-12th grade. The EYSO program is proud to include the Atlanta Junior Chamber Orchestra (AJCO), a 50-member string orchestra composed of top 6th-9th grade musicians from the Atlanta area led by Georgia Lambros Ekonomou.

The home of EYSO is the world-class Schwartz Center for Performing Arts on the Emory University campus. Members are 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 professionals. The orchestra performs three concerts during the school year in the 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.

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.

Members are required 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. Students should plan to arrive on the Emory campus between 7:00-7:15pm in order to park and warm up. Free parking is available in the Lowergate South Parking Deck and the Fishburne Parking Deck next to the Schwartz Center after 6pm. Practice rooms are available on the third floor of the Schwartz Center.

EYSO is funded solely through participation fees and donations. Rehearsal and performance venues, concert promotion and marketing, basic equipment needs and concert support are all provided by Emory University.

The tuition fee for 2019-2020 is $600 for the year. This is an all-inclusive fee for the season; there are no additional fees for folders, music, t-shirt, Parents Association, etc. Full and partial scholarships are available. Consideration for scholarships is based on the needs of both the student and the program.

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. Previous winners include:

Timothy Cho (2020) Shostakovich Cello Concerto
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)