Audition Requirements

Please note ALL REQUIREMENTS for your instrument category before submitting your application and contact [email protected] with any questions or to seek clarification: 

Eligibility: Candidates should be no older than 20 years of age as of approximately September 15, 2022.  If a candidate's birthday occurs around this time, please check with our office to determine eligibility.  Candidates must also reside - or have anticipation of residence – in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  If accepted into the Youth Orchestra, all members will be reasonably expected to commute by car or public transit to Davies Symphony Hall for all regular services. 

Scheduling an Audition:  After each application deadline, candidates will be polled by email or phone for possible availability.  Due to the ongoing fluctuations around Covid-19, each audition period will be addressed individually and communications will be sent to applicants regarding how the auditions will be conducted.  Auditions may be remote or in person at the discretion of the San Francisco Symphony in cooperation with the Youth Orchestra administration and faculty.  If held in person, auditions by instrument group are generally held on a single day due to the scheduling needs of our Music Director, faculty, and of the San Francisco Symphony.  For this reason, alternate dates and times may not be available.

Applications for the 2022-2023 Season are currently being accepted. The deadline to participate in our current audition round (anticipated for May/June 2022) is April 15th, 2022. Please check this webpage for updates and contact [email protected] or (415) 503-5350 with any questions.

Thank you,
Jason Pyszkowski - Associate Director, Youth Orchestra Program

Apply online now – click this link

Adjudication: The Youth Orchestra Music Director and members of the San Francisco Symphony who serve as our faculty will adjudicate all auditions.  As opposed to a panel of “judges,” our adjudicators record feedback from each audition which will be released and discussed with the candidate upon request.  Teachers will discuss this feedback with their student(s) rather than request it directly from the Youth Orchestra administration. 

Location: Auditions are normally held in rehearsal spaces at Davies Symphony Hall.  Directions and parking information will be provided upon scheduling the audition.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to frequently evolving guidance from local/state health authorities, this coming season's auditions may be conducted online or by recording.  Information regarding the exact nature of the audition itself will be further communicated to applicants after their applications have been accepted.  The SFSYO follows the most recent city, county, and state health guidelines to ensure the maximum safety of auditionees and their families.

1. Scale requirements


Please check the linked packets below for the most current requirements.


2. Solo piece

Candidates must prepare a solo selection – such as a  movement from a concerto or comparable solo work of their choosing.  This selection should accurately represent the candidate’s current and most representative level of overall musicianship including both technical facility and lyricism while still being mindful of techniques needed in orchestral playing such as steady rhythm, full warm tones, and consistently solid intonation. The solo piece should total 6-8 minutes in length.  Excerpts of larger works are very acceptable.   Candidates should be prepared to perform solo pieces unaccompanied as neither collaborative pianists nor recorded backing tracks will be permitted in any round of our auditions.

The SFSYO office will not make recommendations for specific pieces to present - the choice should be made by the applicant in conjunction with a studio teacher and/or other trusted musical advisor(s.)  Again, please do not plan to include an accompanist in any part of your audition. 

Notable Exceptions:

- Horn applicants should prepare [first movements when applicable] from ONE of the following solo pieces: 

*Mozart, W.A./ Concerto EITHER No. 2 (E-flat, K.417) or 4 (E-flat, K.495) 

*Saint Saëns/ Morceau de Concert, Op. 94

*Strauss, Franz/ Concerto, Op. 8

*Strauss, Richard/ Concerto No. 1, Op. 11

- Trumpet applicants will have a required solo piece provided in the packet linked here.

- Percussion applicants should be prepared to present two contrasting etudes for snare as well as the required excerpt (see linked packet for specific requirements), one solo piece for mallet instrument (two or four mallets), and one timpani excerpt from a classical or romantic work.  If you choose a piece written for marimba, please note, we often have a 5-octave instrument available, but you must check with our office at the time of your application. 

- Keyboard applicants should prepare a movement from the keyboard sonata of your choice by Joseph Haydn.  Though you should work with your teacher to determine which edition(s) to prepare, you may find many examples of his sonatas here: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Haydn,_Joseph

3. Orchestral Excerpts and Scale Requirements

All candidates must prepare each of the specific excerpt(s) required for their instrument unless it is indicated as optional.  Click on instrument sections below to download excerpts as a PDF file.  Please use only this sheet music to prepare the orchestral excerpts as all markings are specific to this audition.  

Violin

Viola

Cello

Bass

Flute

Oboe

Clarinet

Bassoon

Horn

Trumpet

Tenor Trombone

Bass Trombone

Tuba

Percussion

Keyboard

4. Sight-reading

Any candidate may be asked to sight-read from standard orchestral repertoire for the instrument on which they are auditioning.