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. For the 2020-2021 season, auditions will be held May 18 and 19, 2020, at Calvin University. Questions? Contact us at 616-842-6566 or


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.)
  • Prepared 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 conductor.)

Classical Orchestra members must re-audition each season. Youth Symphony members must re-audition after their first year; after their second year and beyond, they generally are not required to re-audition. There is only one audition for the two groups.

Audition Process

AUDITIONS for the 2020-2021 season: Applications are not yet open. A link to the online application will appear here soon. A $30 audition fee is required, payable by PayPal or credit card.

Auditions will be held at the Calvin University music building (Covenant Fine Arts Center), just west of the East Beltline SE and north of Burton SE in Grand Rapids. This is subject to change due to COVID-19-related restrictions. Check back here for updates as the date approaches.

For Strings and Winds

1. Prepared solo or etude:

  • 3 to 5 minutes in length (without piano accompaniment) — work with your private lesson instructor to select an appropriate piece
  • NO extra copy of the music is needed for the audition judge
  • Solo does not have to be memorized

2. Sight reading (provided at the audition)

3. Memorized scales:

  • Major: C, G, D, A, E, F, Bb, Eb, Ab
  • Melodic minor: A, E, B, F#, C#, D, G, C, F
  • Chromatic scale
  • Scale sheets/books are NOT allowed in the audition room.

For Percussion

Proficiency on the following instruments is desirable but not mandatory: timpani, snare drum, multiple percussion, mallets.

1. Prepared solo:

  • Short solo on timpani, snare drum, multiple percussion, and/or mallet (concert type, not rudimental or drum set) — NO extra copy of the music is needed for the audition judge; solo does not have to be memorized
  • Long roll on timpani and snare: soft to loud to soft

2. Sight reading (provided at the audition)

3. Memorized scales

  • Major scales: C, F, Bb, G, D — on mallets (xylophone or marimba)

After Your Audition

  • The music director places students according to the quality of their recorded audition.
  • You will receive a letter notifying you of your audition results in June or July. String players may be placed in either the Classical Orchestra or the Youth Symphony. (Chair assignments are determined three times during the season by chair auditions.)
  • IF YOU RECEIVE A LETTER OF INVITATION to the GRYS or Classical Orchestra, be sure to do the following to complete your membership:
    1. Sign and return your commitment form
    2. Pay your $200 tuition fee – by check payable to GRYS or via PayPal (note that tuition assistance is available)
    3. Fill out the “Complete Your Membership” form