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Inspiring and educating young musicians.

The study and performance of great music in an ensemble setting can be a transformative experience for young musicians and the skills they learn as part of a GCTYO ensemble—teamwork, perseverance and responsibility—carry over into all areas of their lives.

Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestras has been providing music education and performance opportunities to young musicians since 1961.

Our developmentally progressive music program gives ensemble members the opportunity to play at the highest level both individually and collectively. Members are selected by competitive audition and come from over 30 communities in Connecticut. GCTYO strives for diversity and inclusivity in a social environment that is both fun and musically challenging. GCTYO exposes its members to all types of symphonic literature and enriches their musical education.

Rehearsals & Performances

Saturday mornings, from September through mid-May, eleven separate ensembles bring young people together for music, enjoyment, community and learning. Through rehearsals and formal performances, young musicians gain valuable experience and an important sense of achievement and self-confidence, while fostering lifelong friendships and a love of music. Rehearsals are held in Fairfield unless indicated elsewhere. Occasionally, rehearsals are on Sunday afternoons.

At least three performances are held each year at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport, CT. Most ensembles perform in at least one additional special performance.

Student-focused and taught by music educators.

GCTYO instructors are both professional musicians and music educators who are tuned in to educational best practices and child development. They bring out the best in each student by challenging them to work hard as individuals and members of a group. Musicians feel engaged by the process and supported by their conductors and peers. The result is a positive, exciting learning experience with clear, measurable musical progress through the years.

Eleven ensembles, one family.

GCTYO places high value on community and the social benefits of its program. Reflective of our larger region, GCTYO students come from a variety of backgrounds and heritage. They come from cities, suburbs and everywhere in between. Members of GCTYO appreciate the chance to get to know others outside of their regular social circles. Snack time, retreat days, and other special events are an important part of the GCTYO program. It allows our young musicians to interact in a relaxed setting and solidify friendships beyond their music stands and rehearsal rooms. Parents also enjoy the GCTYO community through volunteering, attending performances, and joining GCTYO international trips.

Retreats and Social Outings

In addition to rehearsals and performance, GCTYO hosts a series of retreats and social outings. GCTYO provides each ensemble with an annual retreat early in the season. All members are required to attend their orchestra retreat. The purpose of the retreats is two-fold: A period of intense rehearsals, coupled with recreational activities, immensely improves the quality of future music performances. The social activities give students the chance to “bond” into a cohesive group with common interests and goals. Retreats are held off-site so that they feel special.

International Travel

GCTYO normally  travels abroad every two years on an international performance tour. Musicians in Symphony, Bravura, Principal or Jazz 1 are eligible to perform on the trip, but all members families are welcome to come. GCTYO has traveled to Germany, Austria, China, Italy, Scotland, and Iceland, where they performed in the stunning Harpa Hall in Reykjavik. The Summer 2020 tour to the musical cities of Tallinn, Estonia; Helsinki, Finland; and St. Petersburg, Russia was regrettably cancelled. Planning is underway for a trip in Summer 2022.

Outreach and Collaboration

Collaboration is an important part of the GCTYO curriculum. Working with other ensembles, music professionals and living composers gives students valuable experience for their musical development. In recent years, GCTYO has performed concerts with:

  • Cirque de la Symphonie
  • Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut
  • Greater Bridgeport Symphony
  • Connecticut Chamber Choir
  • Jim Royle Drum Studio
  • Fairfield University Glee Club
  • Fairfield County Children’s Choir
  • New England Ballet Company

GCTYO is proud to be in a position to give back to the community. It has launched an after school lesson program designed to expose students to string instruments and inspire dedicated young musicians for the future. GCTYO students are active volunteers in their own music communities, frequently giving time and raising money for other musical causes.

Please consider donating to GCTYO

Help GCTYO achieve its mission of inclusiveness and high-quality music education and performance opportunities for young musicians by clicking on the Donate button below!