<May 2019>


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.

Join the Civic Youth Ensembles

There are ensembles of many sizes, genres, and age levels you can be a part of. Find out more below.

Your Stage Awaits With CYE

For nearly 50 years, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, through its Civic Youth Ensembles, has committed itself to educational excellence by providing students with life-changing musical experiences. This strengthens the DSO’s mission of enriching existing music education opportunities in the region while simultaneously creating one-of-a-kind opportunities for its students—providing a vast and rich musical tapestry that the entire community can enjoy.

Since 1970, the Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) has offered training and performance opportunities for all ages and ability levels—from elementary school students through young adults. All members of CYE benefit from engaging one-on-one interactions with DSO musicians and internationally renowned artists, while performing in the state-of-the-art facilities of the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center—including historic Orchestra Hall.

CYE’s mission is to foster the development of every student’s artistic and creative potential. CYE Faculty believe music can provide youth with the necessary tools to develop important life skills, such as critical and analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication and teamwork—helping them discover success no matter what path in life they choose. We invite you to join our ever-expanding Civic Youth Ensembles family.


Visit www.wufamilyacademy.org to schedule a free audition today!

The Civic Youth Ensembles (CYE) offers a variety of performance ensemble experiences for all levels. These are separated into two types of ensembles a student can audition for: Experience Ensembles and Showcase Ensembles. Please review the information below to determine which ensemble is the best fit.

Auditions are open to all music students, who are expected to be enrolled in a 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.

CYE’s classical ensembles are categorized into two groups: Showcase and Experience ensembles. You can learn more about each type of ensemble below. To qualify for a Showcase ensemble, students must audition on the provided excerpts. Please read the excerpt sheet carefully to determine which excerpts to prepare.

Full Orchestras

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.

Civic Philharmonic Orchestra

Saturdays 10:45a-12:45p

Founded in 2004, the Civic Philharmonic Orchestra builds upon the great tradition of musical training provided by the Civic Youth Ensembles. Civic 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.

Civic Concert Orchestra

Saturdays 10:45p-12:45p

Founded in 2011, Civic Concert Orchestra provides training for intermediate-level middle and high school students. Students in Civic Concert Orchestra will receive deeper instruction and preparation for moving forward in their musical endeavors. Civic 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.

Wind Bands

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 16th through the 21st 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.

Civic Symphonic Band

Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a

Open to intermediate and advanced level wind, brass, and percussion players in middle through high school, the Civic 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.

Civic Flute Ensemble

Saturdays 11:00a-12:30p

The CYE Civic 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.

String Orchestras

Civic Sinfonia String Orchestra

Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a

Created in 1999, the Civic 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 the opportunity to perform challenging repertoire designed to enhance their music education.

Civic Arco & Pizzicato String Ensembles

Saturdays 8:30a-10:30a

Civic 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 of those who have limited experience playing in an orchestral setting, while providing a performance outlet for beginners.

Jazz Bands

Civic Jazz Orchestra

Mondays 6:00p-9:00p

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.

Civic Jazz Band

Mondays 6:00p-9:00p

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

Creative Jazz Ensemble

Mondays 6:00p-9:00p

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.

Experience Ensembles

About The Experience Ensembles

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


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.


Pizzicato String Ensembles

Pizz 1 (Strings only: ages 8-12)
Pizz 2 (Stings 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

Civic Sinfonia String Orchestra

Strings only: grades 6-12

Symphonic Band

Woodwinds, brass, & percussion only: grades 6-12


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.

Showcase Ensembles

About the Showcase Ensembles

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.


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.


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

Click links below to download


Civic Jazz Band

(Grades 7-12)

Civic Jazz Orchestra

(Grades 9-12+)

All Jazz Audition Excerpts

Click links below to download

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.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

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?

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

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.