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

“The GRYSO did a brilliant job under the bold, dynamic hand of John Varineau. . . . His animated style inspired wonders from his young players who performed difficult pieces with vigor and ease.”

—concert review in The Grand Rapids Press

Stream May 16 Concert Here (starts 2:00 pm)

See the May 16 Concert Program: please support our advertisers!

Tickets for the May 16, 2021 Concert

We are so grateful for the opportunity to have a live concert this season. ASM Global has been gracious in helping us make all the necessary accommodations to have our concert while remaining in compliance with current state ordinances. This means that we are allowed a total of 300 tickets for assigned seats in pods.  We are only allowed to have an audience of 300 people for the day.  We will not have three separate audiences.  A ticket is for the entire program whether you come at 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm

We are doing our best to accommodate special requests, but please understand that these tickets must be divided between 94 families of current student members. Please see the link to the Members Only Page for more details

Spring Drive 2021

The Grand Rapids Youth Symphony celebrated its 62th year of existence in 2021-2022. Even though retiring in May, Conductor John Varineau, who has led the organization for over half its lifetime, invites donors to help honor our past and our future with a contribution to the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony & Classical Orchestra. Read John’s Letter.
Donate here >>


Are you interested in joining the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony or Classical Orchestra? Auditions for both ensembles are held each May for the following season. Here is this year’s brochure:

Changes for 2021-2022

Due to the coronavirus, we are once again changing how auditions will take place for the 2021-2022 season. Instead of attending in-person auditions, we are asking students to upload a video of their prepared audition piece, scales & sight-reading on or before May 24. Please review the information below carefully. If you have questions, please contact us at 616-842-6566 or
  • Current students: If you are a current member of either Youth Symphony or the Classical Orchestra and wish to stay in your current orchestra in 2021-2022, you must log into the Members Only site and choose “save spot” by May 17. This will secure your spot for next year! (Current students would have to re-audition if they wish to change to a different instrument or if a Classical Orchestra student wants to join the Youth Symphony.)


Students are eligible to audition if they are:

  • Between the ages of 12 and 21.
  • A member of their school band and/or orchestra or a comparable program for homeschoolers. (School band and orchestra leaders: Read this letter from Conductor John Varineau to you.)
  • Prepare to commit to the rehearsal and concert schedule. (Wind players: Monday evening rehearsals may conflict with marching band schedules. Conflicts are normally resolved between school band directors and the GRYS staff.)

There is only one audition for the two groups:

For Audition Process: Please look under the Audition Tab.

Fall Fund Drive

The Fall Fund Drive for 2020 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 John Varineau’s letter to see how we are managing the beginning of our season with the COVID virus. Please consider becoming or continuing to be a patron of our organization.
Read the letter from John Varineau here >>
Donate here >>

Cancelled: GRYS Piano Competition and 200-Minute Practice Challenge (11/19)

We regret to announce that because of the ongoing pandemic, we have cancelled plans to hold the annual GRYS Piano Concerto Competition and the annual 200-Minute Practice Challenge for area middle school students. We look forward to reinstating these events in coming years.

COVID-19 Update: Fall Update (8/24)

Though we put contingency plans in place and were hoping for the best, the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, in consultation with the Grand Rapids Symphony, has determined that we will not be able to meet in person for rehearsals/performance this fall. Instead, we will use a virtual format and follow an altered schedule for the 2020-2021 season. We have cancelled our annual retreat, originally scheduled for Sept. 12. We have also cancelled our Nov. 1 concert. Students can find more information on our Members Only page.