Youth Orchestra Alumni

Alum Spotlight: Nick Photinos (YO Cellist, 1990-92)

Cellist Nick Photinos is the founding cellist and co-Artistic Director of Eighth Blackbird, the four-time Grammy Award-winning contemporary chamber music group that performs 40-50 concerts annually throughout the world and is in residence at the University of Richmond. His debut solo album, Petits Artéfacts, was released on the New Amsterdam label in Fall 2017. For more information, go to

Portrait of Nick Photinos
Nick Photinos.

“When I auditioned for the SFSYO in my sophomore year of high school, I got the dreaded ‘some people may not be ready for the SFSYO at this time’ letter. I taped that to my stand at home and practiced my butt off all year, to make sure it didn't happen again. It didn't, and I was there from 1990-1992, during which time the Orchestra played Mahler, Stravinsky, Barber, Richard Strauss, and many other amazing works. We toured Europe, were guest conducted by Herbert Blomstedt and Bobby McFerrin, worked with SFSO players, and above all, performed works at a difficulty and professionalism way beyond what I had experienced previously. Some of those experiences remain my favorite not just in orchestral music, but in music, period. The SFSYO was and is an amazing organization and the experiences they provide for young musicians are truly outstanding.

Portrait of Matthew Kan with a violinEighth Blackbird.

Calling all alumni! Please keep in touch with us—we always love to hear from you and about what you are up to.

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Please include your name along with the name and instrument of the young musician for which you are inquiring in all email and phone messages.  We cannot provide accurate and prompt replies without this information.

Jason Pyszkowski
Associate Director - Youth Orchestra Program