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Be a part of GCTYO!

Students in grades 5-12 who play orchestral or band instruments are eligible to audition to be placed in one of our developmentally appropriate orchestras and our Jazz Orchestras.

So that we can measure musical progress, current members must also audition each year. 

Students may also register for our Steel Pan program. No audition or experience necessary for Steel Pan!

Chamber Music coached by musicians from Orchestra Lumos is available as well.

GCTYO Orchestras

GCTYO is made up of more than a dozen different ensembles, each with its own unique features. There are 3 full orchestras, 2 levels of string orchestras, a wind orchestra, 2 jazz orchestras, percussion, steel pan, flute choir, and chamber music. There are also a focused woodwind and a focused brass ensemble. Students are placed into the ensemble that is right for their development and interest. 

String Orchestra

For younger string players and those new to an orchestra setting

Woodwind Orchestra

For younger woodwind players and those new to an orchestra setting

Brass Orchestra

For younger brass players and those new to an orchestra setting

Wind Orchestra

For wind players and saxophones to reinforce fundamental skills

Sinfonia Orchestra

Second level orchestra for string players to reinforce fundamental skills

Virtuosi Orchestra

Where orchestra meets band! Young musicians get their first taste of full orchestra, including strings, winds, and percussion.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Second level full orchestra for strings, winds, and percussion. Musicians build their skills in preparation for Principal Orchestra.

Principal Orchestra

Top level full orchestra for strings, winds, and percussion. Principal Orchestra performs full length original works of the classics, as well as new music.

Saxophone Orchestra

Dedicated to learning the nuances of being a great saxophone player. Saxophonists are offered free lessons on an orchestral instrument so that they can eventually play in full orchestra.

Percussion Orchestra

Percussionists learn all concert percussion instruments and support all the orchestras. They also perform together as a group.

Jazz Orchestras

Two jazz ensembles for both experienced musicians and those just getting started in jazz studies. Great opportunity for brass and saxophones, and for students who play more than one instrument. Students must fully participate in a morning orchestra to be eligible for jazz.

Steel Pan Orchestras

Learn different musical genres through the mellow sounds of steel pan drums! No experience or audition necessary for Steel Pan. Advanced, intermediate, and beginner levels offered.

Chamber Music

Small, musician-led string ensembles coached by musicians from Orchestra Lumos (formerly Stamford Symphony)

Audition Schedule
Audition registration is required! Registration fee is $30.

New Student Auditions for the 2024-25 season will take place in June and August in Fairfield. Open Rehearsals to learn more about GCTYO will be April 27, 2024. Email your RSVP to Open Rehearsals.

The 2024 GCTYO Summer Music Festival will take place July 22-August 2, 2024 (weekdays only) in Fairfield. Click here to register! Learn more about camp HERE.

Click to view and download the season CALENDAR.

Scroll down for audition recommendations and watch our video about How to Audition!

GCTYO expects its members – string, woodwind, brass, and percussion – to remain in good standing as participants in their respective school music programs, where they exist. Private lessons alone are NOT a substitute for participation in school music programs. Private lessons are encouraged but not required for participation in GCTYO.

“How to Take a GCTYO Audition”

Watch our audition workshop about what to do – and what not to do! – at your GCTYO audition. This one hour masterclass hosted by Music Director Chris Hisey provides insight and clarity about what we look for at auditions. Appropriate for all levels of musicians.

Audition Information and Recommendations

Audition Information

Each student should prepare a piece or pieces that demonstrates their proficiency on the instrument. Percussionists should include snare, timpani, and mallet selections.

Jazz auditions are held separately. Students interested in Jazz should prepare 2 auditions, one for classical/wind and one for Jazz. Jazz musicians are required to also play in wind ensemble or a classical orchestra.

There is a non-refundable $30 registration fee to secure an audition appointment. No additional fee for a Jazz audition.

We do not hold auditions for Steel Pan. Only registration is required.

All current musicians are required to re-audition each year. Members are selected and seated by ability rather than age or grade.

Audition Dress Code: Business Casual: Avoid jeans, shorts, sneakers, or flip-flops. Dress for success and respect!

Audition Recommendations

We want you to feel relaxed and perform at your best, so we encourage you to review the following requirements and recommendations:


String players: Entry level string players must be able to play one-octave scales in the keys of C, G, D and F. Two to three-octave major scales up to 4 sharps and 4 flats may be asked of all other string players.

Woodwind and brass players: Entry level players must be able to play one-octave scales in concert keys up to 4 sharps and 4 flats. All other students may be asked to play two-octave scales in concert keys up to 4 sharps and 4 flats through their range.

Choose a solo you can play well. Have it well-prepared.

The adjudicator is not interested in when you started learning the solo; they will judge you on how well you play it. Choose a solo that shows off your ability. It should not be too easy, but if it is beyond your ability, it will hurt your audition score. Recognize that you will probably not perform your entire solo piece as audition time is limited. If the adjudicator asks you to stop, it is because they have heard what is needed.

Sight reading is a part of each audition.

Practice sight reading!

Be early for your audition

So that you can complete any necessary paperwork, warm up and be ready to do your best. We recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled audition time.


GCTYO bases placement on an objective scoring process that measures scales, intonation, tone quality, rhythm, articulation, dynamics, phrasing, expression and technique on the instrument. The suggestions above serve only as guidelines. Eligibility for each orchestra is ultimately determined by the student’s overall ability level and the adjudicators’ judgment as to where the student will have the best possible experience.

Audition Criteria

When you audition for GCTYO, you are auditioning for a spot within our program in general. You do not audition for a specific orchestra, and we do not have a list of pieces that will qualify you for a specific orchestra.

You will be asked to play scales and a prepared piece and to do some sight reading. 

After the audition is complete, our artistic staff determines the appropriate placement based upon your overall skill level and musicianship.

What We DO Consider In Auditions

  • Overall preparedness for the audition
  • Intonation: Do all the notes sound the way they should? Are you in tune with yourself?
  • Rhythmic accuracy: Are you playing the rhythms correctly?
  • Tempo: Is the speed you are playing your piece appropriate? Does it make musical sense? Is your tempo steady?
  • Tone quality: Is the sound you produce characteristic of your instrument?
  • Music reading ability: Sight reading doesn’t have to be perfect, but you do need to demonstrate some understanding of the notes and rhythms on the page.
  • Dynamic contrast: Are you playing with different levels of sound (loud/soft)
  • Musicality: Are you shaping the music and not just playing notes?
  • Appropriateness of your audition piece based on your level of technique

What We DON’T Consider In Auditions

  • Race or ethnicity
  • Gender or gender presentation
  • Economic status
  • What town you are from
  • If you have a private teacher or who your private teacher is
  • Other auditions you’ve taken or groups you have played with
  • If your family has made a donation
  • If someone from your family serves or has served on the Board of Directors