GRYS Piano Competition Winner for 2024 is announced!

 Winner: Noah Carr, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 8 in C major K. 246 Movement 1

Runner Up: Mijeong Lee, Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2 in F major, Op. 102, III. Allegro

The Piano finalist will perform in the SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25th concert accompanied by the Youth Symphony. 

Noah Carr is a freshman at Grand Valley State University from Muskegon, Michigan. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and currently studies under Dr. Sookkyung

Cho. He started taking lessons at the age of eleven. In 2023, Noah graduated from Mona Shores High School where he performed piano with the school symphony orchestra, jazz band, and wind ensemble. He played his senior recital for friends, family, and supporters at The Block in downtown Muskegon. Noah discovered his passion for piano at age 16. He has been attending public performances and immersing himself into music ever since. When he is not practicing, Noah enjoys composing music, exercising at the gym, and drawing landscapes.

Skip Gates Concerto Competition is open -deadline Feb. 13

Each year the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra hosts the Skip Gates Concerto Competition for its members only. Winners are selected for both the Youth Symphony and the Classical Orchestra, and the first-place winner from each group performs with their ensemble at the spring concert.

Eligibility – see Auditions and Competitions above

  • Contestants must be current members of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony or the Classical Orchestra.
  • All members are encouraged to audition.

200 Minute Challenge has STARTED !! —-> click the music stand to the right – deadline Feb. 16

Patron & Friends Fall Fund Drive 2023

The Fall Fund Drive for 2023 is underway. It  is an important time for the future of the Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra. We are in need of our patrons this fall to help with the financial funding of our season. Please read our Fund Letter to see how we are managing the beginning of our season with our new music director, Duo Shen. Please consider becoming or continuing to be a patron of our organization.

Read Duo Shen’s letter to you >> Donate Now!

Our first Fall Concert was a great success! Thank you to everyone who took part of this inspiring event!

An exciting season 2023-24 with Duo Shen, Conductor

I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra to help shape the future of classical music! I look forward to working and living in such a vibrant city while serving its wonderful people and the community.”

Our Spring Concert of the 2022-23 season was Sunday, May 21, 2023, at 3:00 pm, at DeVos Performance Hall Downtown Grand Rapids.

Concert Program is in the News Section to the right!!

Featured at this concert were the 2023 Skip Gates Concert Winners:

Youth Symphony: Benno Alderink, Clarinet, Mozart clarinet concerto in A

Classical Orchestra: Levi Davis, Bass Concerto in F Major, Mvt. 1 by Antonio Capuzzi

Benno Alderink, clarinet, winner of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony Orchestra Skip Gates Concerto Competition. Benno’s passion for the clarinet began at the age of eleven, when he decided fifth grade band was more interesting than choir. Since then, he has been studying with Suzanna Dennis Bratton, principal clarinet of the Grand Rapids Symphony.  Benno has been active with West Michigan Homeschool Fine Arts, St. Cecilia School of Music youth programs, as well as Grand Rapids Musician’s League, where he was the recent recipient of the Christopher Zeman scholarship. In 2021, he earned first place in Kent Philharmonic Orchestra’s concerto competition, high school division, and was thrilled to be a featured soloist.  Last summer, Benno had the opportunity to attend the Alexander Fiterstein International Clarinet Workshop and the Juilliard Summer Winds program.  In his free time, Benno enjoys playing sports, listening to orchestral music, and improving his chess game.  His church youth group is an important part of his life where he is involved in the praise team. This fall, Benno will be attending Liberty University to pursue a degree in clarinet performance.  He’s very grateful to his teacher, Suzy, for her encouragement and holding him to the highest musical standard.  He would also like to thank his mum and dad, siblings, and friends for the many ways they love and support him. 

Levi Davis, bass, winner of the Classical Orchestra Skip Gates Concerto Competition, is a freshman at Hudsonville High School, is a member of the Chamber Orchestra, Alternative String Ensemble and Jazz Combo.  He began playing bass in 6th grade and has taken private lessons for the past 3 years with Gerald Torres and Mark Buchner. In 8th grade, Levi was a member of the MSBOA District Honors Orchestra, MSBOA All-State Orchestra and was named the Baldwin Street Middle School Orchestral Outstanding Musician.  He has participated in MSBOA Solo & Ensemble festival the past two years and also attended MASTA string camp last summer.  In addition to music, Levi is a member of the JV golf team, employed as Junior Coach with First Tee and currently training to be a caddy.

Faith Lee winner of the 2023 GRYS Piano Competition. She will be performing at the February 26, 2023 Concert.

Faith Yeha Lee is a sophomore at Forest Hills Northern High School. She currently studies with Dr. Helen Marlais, professor of piano performance and pedagogy at Grand Valley State University. Faith started her piano journey in 2014, when she was 8 years old. She competed in her first piano competition in South Korea when she was 10 years old, where she was a finalist. She also competed in the National Joongang Music Piano Concour for Young Artists in South Korea, twice, winning 1st place in 2017 and 2nd place in 2018. In the U.S, she received the 1st prize at the 2020 and 2022 Grand Rapids Piano Teacher Forum Annual Awards competition. She has also competed in the International Young Artist Concerto Competition, based in Chicago. Besides competitions, Faith has found joy and passion in accompanying other musicians, teaching piano to young students, and playing duets. Faith plans to pursue piano as a career. Besides her piano studies, she loves to spend time with her friends and family (including her dog, Louie), try new foods, and explore new places.

Two instrumental ensembles featuring some of West Michigan’s most talented young musicians

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Last Season Winners

The Spring Concert features the Winners of the Skip Gates Concerto Competition. Classical Orchestra’s winner is Julia Mann and Youth Symphony’s winner is Robin Meyer. Tickets are available the day of the concert. All seating is general admission.

Julia Mann, violin, winner of the Classical Orchestra Skip Gates Concerto Competition, is a sophomore at Rockford High School where she has participated in her school orchestra since 6th grade under Amy Tenney and Erin DeYoung.  She began violin lessons at age 6 at the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City.  After moving to Michigan, Julia studied with Diane Duryee until her retirement in 2020.  She is a current student of Susan Mora, a violinist in the Grand Rapids Symphony.  During middle school, Julia participated in Sinfonia and Concert Orchestra at the St. Cecilia School of Music. She is now in her second year in the Classical Orchestra with Grand Rapids Youth Symphony. This summer, Julia is excited to have been selected to play with the Camerata Orchestra at Blue Lake Fine Arts camp and is grateful to also have been awarded the Robert Madura String Scholarship to help her attend. She enjoys all forms of art and music. In addition to orchestra, she plays percussion with the Rockford Marching Band and studies piano with D’Anne Ibarra. Julia would like to thank all of her music teachers for their dedication and inspiration.


Robin Meyer, violin, winner of the Youth Symphony Skip Gates Concerto Competition, began studying music at 6, in Nashville, Tennessee. After moving to Grand Rapids, Robin studied with Annette Henry, then with Dylana Jenson. Five years ago, Robin began studying under Grand Rapids Symphony violinist Jenna Buchner, whose 1902 Paul Jombar violin Robin is playing for this concert. In 8th grade, Robin joined Classical Orchestra and performed as the Skip Gates soloist. She has been a member of the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony since 9th grade, serving as principal second violinist and Concert Master. Outside of Youth Symphony, Robin plays in City High School’s zero-hour orchestra under Samer Jeroudi and has participated in district and state Solo and Ensemble. She was nominated for the MSBOA Concerto Competition and Honors Orchestra this year. Beyond music, Robin is an untrained dancer, an avid reader, and an inquisitive learner who enjoys the challenge of balancing a rigorous IB curriculum with her many other interests. Robin would like to acknowledge a few of the many people who have supported her, including her family, her teacher, her friends, the Gracefuls, and her youth leaders. She is eternally grateful to them for their relentless kindness, unflinching loyalty, and unparalleled friendship.

Spring Drive for Donations 2023 Donate Now!

Our Spring Drive has started.  Attached is a LETTER from Duo Shen.  If you can share the excitement of our talented musicians and their experiences with people who will support the Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra, we deeply appreciate it. We only have 2 fund drives a year: Spring and Fall.  We hope to continue to keep our costs reasonable and provide the best quality of musical training for these gifted students.  

Monday May 16, 2022 Money Making Monday! Fundraiser for Tuition

The GR Symphony Friends is holding a fundraising event at Licari’s Restaurant at both of their locations: Knapp Corner & Hudsonville. Print Flyer Here Must have printed flyer to participate. Lacari’s is also honoring gift card purchases for this event. Dine in, take out and gift card all qualify, just no delivery. Gift Cards make great end of the year gifts!

Our Annual Spring Drive will begin again in May. Each year we solicit our faithful patrons to help raise money for our organization. Our expenses have gone way beyond the cost of the tuition for our student members. Since the pandemic, expenses have increased to a new level. Donate Now! Please consider increasing your level of giving as we thrive to continue to offer excellence in training for young talented musicians.