<September 2017>

Civic Youth Ensembles logo

Since 1970, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) have provided Michigan's musicians of all ages a comprehensive music education experience. CYE's two-fold mission is to cultivate every student's artistic and creative potential through rewarding musical experiences while continuing to develop meaningful skills outside of the arts.

The CYE Faculty believes music can provide youth with the necessary tools to develop important life skills: critical and analytical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, and teamwork. They believe that students can discover success no matter what path in life they choose.


Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra
Saturdays 1:00p-4:00p

Founded in 1970, The DSYO is the premier youth orchestra in the CYE. Through advanced orchestral repertoire, students are challenged to perform at professional levels, to strive for advanced musicianship and to continue to enhance their superior technical and musical ensemble playing. Open to advanced strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion musicians of high school through college undergraduate ages.

Philharmonic Orchestra
Saturdays 10:45a-12:45p 

Founded in 2004, the Philharmonic Orchestra builds upon the great tradition of musical training provided by the Civic Youth Ensembles. Philharmonic offers advanced musicians the opportunity to experience challenging repertoire while continuing to develop their musicianship and is open to advanced strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion musicians of high school ages. Repertoire includes standard full symphonic literature works, in addition to several world premieres commissioned especially for the orchestra.

Concert Orchestra
Saturdays 10:45a-12:45p 

Founded in 2011, Concert Orchestra provides training for intermediate-level middle and high school students. Students in Concert Orchestra will receive deeper instruction and preparation for moving forward in their musical endeavors. Concert Orchestra is designed to meet the growing need of orchestral training beyond their school programs, taking students from the entry level ensemble and challenging them, preparing them for high-level performances on Orchestra Hall Stage.f


Detroit Symphony Youth Wind Ensembles
Saturdays 1:00p-3:30p 

The DSYWE provides opportunities to study and perform works from the wind repertoire of the sixteenth through the twenty-first centuries. DSYWE students study instrumental works in a broad range of styles, as well as world premieres including pieces for full wind ensemble and chamber music. Open to advanced level wind, brass and percussion musicians, this ensemble provides students with opportunity to perform intensive and demanding repertoire.

Symphonic Band
Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a 

Open to intermediate and advanced level wind, brass and percussion players in middle through high school, the Symphonic Band provides students the opportunity to develop musicianship, refine performance skills and develop responsible rehearsal habits through the study of core wind band literature.

Flute Ensemble
Saturdays 11 a-12:30p 

The CYE Flute Ensemble provides intermediate-level flute players the opportunity to develop their skill in tone, technique, intonation, and sound in an ensemble setting, while providing students with several performance opportunities throughout the year.


Sinfonia String Orchestra
Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a 

Created in 1999, the Sinfonia String Orchestra provides emerging musicians high-quality musical training. Open to Intermediate string musicians in middle and high school, this ensemble provides students with opportunity to perform challenging repertoire designed to enhance their music education.

Arco & Pizzicato String Ensembles
Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a 

Arco and Pizzicato offer an excellent launching pad into the world of orchestral performance. These ensembles focus on the presentation of rudimentary ensemble techniques in a methodical way that allows for advancement for those that have limited experience playing in an orchestral setting, while providing a performance outlet for beginners.


Civic Jazz Orchestra
Mondays 6p-9p 

Civic Jazz Orchestra provides students advanced experience in performing music of varying styles from the standard modern jazz repertoire. Open to advanced piano, guitar, bass, brass, woodwinds, and percussion musicians of senior high school ages.

Concert Jazz Band
Mondays 6p-9p 

Concert Jazz Band emphasizes jazz ensemble skills including section playing, improvisation, and theory while performing big band standards and jazz classics. Jazz Concert Band is designed for intermediate-level jazz students in piano, guitar, bass, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and percussion.

Creative Jazz Ensemble
Mondays 6p-9p 

Creative Jazz Ensemble opens the doors of the jazz world to all intermediate to advanced students including those outside the traditional jazz instrumentation such as strings, oboe, bassoon, flute, clarinet, horn, euphonium, and tuba. Students in the Creative Jazz Ensemble have the unique opportunity to enhance their understanding of jazz theory and improvisation in a non-traditional setting. These students receive a truly unique musical experience, performing exciting and innovative customized arrangements of jazz classics and new favorites.


The Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) offers a variety of performance ensemble experiences at all levels. Designed to supplement their school’s music program, the CYE offers the opportunity for students to learn from world-class musicians and experience what it’s like to be a professional musician performing on historic Orchestra Hall stage. The CYE offers many types of ensembles, so please review the information below in order to determine which ensemble is the best fit.

Auditions are open to all music students and are expected to be enrolled in their school music program, if available. If a student would like to audition on more than one instrument or for both the jazz and classical programs they must schedule separate audition times for each instrument and category.

Auditions are scheduled at 10-minute intervals, recorded, and then heard by an adjudication panel consisting of CYE artistic staff and Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians. All audition requirements are listed below. Please review it carefully to prepare. Also note that there are two types of ensembles a student can audition for: Experience Ensembles and Showcase Ensembles.

To schedule an audition, follow the link below. Please note that there is a $25 application fee. All audition results are final.

Register for an instrumental audition
Register for a vocal audition


CYE’s Experience Ensembles are designed for students searching for an extra layer of music education, giving them professional experiences not typically found in their school’s music program. Students in these ensembles will gain experiences needed to grow as a musician and to prepare themselves to move towards a CYE Showcase Ensemble.

Qualification Requirements

In order to qualify for a CYE Experience Ensemble, students must choose a piece of music (between 1- 2 minutes in length) that best showcases their experience level. This placement audition will help the audition panel place students in ensembles best suited for their needs. Students admitted into an Experience Ensemble must audition every season in order to maintain their position or move to a higher ensemble.


Creative Jazz Ensemble
(Grades 6-12)

The Creative Jazz Ensemble (CJE) arranges, composes and performs variations of jazz and contemporary standards to create a unique ensemble experience for every student involved. Open to all instruments, the CJE gives students the opportunity to push their limits in music making with others and perfect for those interested in learning more about improvisation, arranging and collaboration.


Pizzicato String Ensembles
Pizz 1 (Strings only: ages 8-12)
Pizz 2 (Strings only: ages 13-17)

The Pizzicato String Ensembles (PSE) exists to educate string players with at least one year of experience. This ensemble works to strengthen each member’s technique, note reading ability and general musicianship using pedagogically sound string method books and outside repertoire of an appropriate level. Members should be able to play repertoire comparable to the early pieces in Book 1 of the Suzuki Method.

Arco String Orchestra
(Strings only: grades 3-9)

Sinfonia String Orchestra
(Strings only: grades 6-12)

Symphonic Band
(Woodwinds, brass & percussion only: grades 6-12)


The Showcase Ensembles are the CYE’s premier performance opportunities designed for students interested in gaining more professional orchestral experiences. Entrance into these ensembles is more selective, with limited spots available. Students in these ensembles are held to the same standards as collegiate and professional musicians, preparing them for more advanced orchestral and jazz studies as they progress through high school and into college.

Qualification Requirements

CYE Showcase Ensembles are more selective, and limited spots are available. In order to qualify for a Showcase Ensemble, students must meet the requirements in the audition material below. Students admitted into a Showcase Ensemble must audition every season in order to maintain their position or move to a higher ensemble.


Civic Jazz Band
(Grades 7-12)

Civic Jazz Orchestra
(Grades 9-12+)


Concert Orchestra
(Strings: grades 6-10)
(Woodwinds, brass & percussion: grades 6-12)

Philharmonic Orchestra
(Grades 7-12)

Detroit Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble (DSYWE)*
(Woodwinds, brass & percussion only: grades 9-12+)

Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra (DSYO)*
(Grades 9-12+)

*Woodwind, brass and percussion students will first be considered for the DSYWE. Students will then be invited from the DSYWE to perform with the DSYO, dependent on the instrumentation needs of the DSYO.

Classical Showcase Ensemble Audition Material

Violin | Viola | Cello | Bass | Flute | Clarinet | OboeBassoon | Saxophone |  Horn | Trumpet | Trombone | Tuba | Percussion

All Jazz Audition Excerpts

Trumpet | Trombone | Saxophone | Piano | Guitar | Bass | Drums | Non-Traditional Jazz Instruments

Detroit Symphony Youth Chorale

The Civic Youth Ensembles and the Detroit Children’s Choir is proud to announce the 2017-2018 Inaugural Detroit Symphony Youth Chorale (DSYC)! This new experience will provide choral students from all over the region the opportunity to perform professional-level literature in Orchestra Hall, while getting the opportunity to interact with and learn from professional musicians. This advanced choir will give students the chance to explore literature of all kinds and enhance their current choir experiences.

• Register to audition for the 2017-18 DSYC
• Download the DSYC Audition Material
• 2017-18 DSYC Audition Rehearsal Tracks 

Any questions about auditions or any of our ensembles should be directed towards the Civic Youth Ensembles staff by emailing civic@dso.org or calling (313) 576-5060.

Many answers to questions can be found in the CYE Handbook. For questions not found in the CYE Handbook or website, please email civic@dso.org.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

A: Any student eligible for reduced or free lunch at a public school is eligible for financial aid. Documentation from the student’s school should be attached to the financial aid application. If the student does not attend a public school, you are still welcome to apply by attaching a tax document that shows their household’s adjusted gross income (AGI) to the financial aid application. Financial aid applications are made available to all students once they are given a placement in an ensemble.

Q: How does the audition process work?

A: Please refer to our audition requirements tab above to review the guidelines for our various ensembles. Auditions take place live at both Orchestra Hall and at select locations in metro Detroit during the spring and summer and are “blind” to ensure fairness. Auditions are audio recorded and then reviewed by DSO musicians and CYE faculty and staff.

Q: Is it possible my student can move up to a more advanced group after they receive their placement for the year?

A: Decisions regarding ensemble placements are final. However, if a spot in one of groups is vacated mid-season, it is possible that the CYE staff may ask a student from other groups to cover a part in another ensemble.

Q: When are the concerts?

A: A copy of the 2016-2017 CYE performances will be accessible online soon! For now, please browse our full calendar.

Q: When and where are rehearsals held?

A: Rehearsals are held in the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Center located at 3711 Woodward Avenue Detroit, Michigan 48201. Venue changes will be communicated via email prior to rehearsal. Rehearsal times for each ensemble will be posted online soon.

Q: How do I report an absence?

To report an absence, late arrival or early departure you must submit an attendance notification form. Students must report an absence at least two weeks in advance. For emergency absences please fill out a request form (at your earliest convenience), in addition to emailing civic@dso.org. Please provide as much notice as possible.

> Attendance Notification Form

Q: Where can I manage my active account?

> Log-In Here

Q: Can I place an advertisement in a CYE program?o

Yes! Advertising in our CYE program books is available for organizations and businesses to promote events or offerings by filling out the CYE Program Ad Order Form. Please note that student pages for parents to purchase for graduating high school seniors is only available on select program dates.