THE AMERICAN YOUTH SYMPHONY's mission is to inspire the future of classical music. AYS shares exceptional, innovative concerts for free or significantly reduced admission based on a landmark Fellowship program for musicians in high school through doctoral music programs. Competitively selected, the orchestra is comprised of 100 musicians who represent extraordinary talent from all over the world.
An elite Fellowship opportunity, AYS is designed to prepare the concert artists of tomorrow for leadership in 21st-century orchestras and ensembles. Musicians receive in-depth exposure to the varied styles of symphonic music being performed today by professional orchestras, from classical masterworks to world premieres and innovative film scores. Each AYS Fellow receives a season stipend ranging from $1,400-$4,000 and there is no tuition. Fellows perform at renowned venues such as Royce Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and work alongside world-class guest artists such as Daníel Bjarnason, Anna Clyne, Sarah Chang, Johannes Moser, John Williams, David Newman, Alan Silvestri, Charles Fox, and Lera Auerbach. Designed to challenge, nurture, and inspire, the American Youth Symphony is a musical laboratory where Fellows not only master their parts and develop a deep understanding of musical scores, but also explore their roles as musician citizens within their community. AYS aims to create leaders, innovative thinkers, and articulate communicators for the 21st century and beyond.
Founded in 1964 by world-renowned conductor Mehli Mehta, AYS celebrates over five decades as an important architect in building the future of classical music. To date, they have trained over 2,500 musicians who now enjoy successful careers in some of the finest orchestras in the nation, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Metropolitan Opera, to name a few. The three leading orchestras in Los Angeles – the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the LA Chamber Orchestra, and LA Opera – employ 37 AYS graduates. Additionally, AYS instills a lifelong love of and investment in this art form among its diverse audiences from across Southern California. In fact, AYS audiences are some of the most diverse to be found in classical music today. As such, AYS has firmly established itself as a “gateway” orchestra for aspiring musicians, as well as the field of classical music at large. As part of their mission to build new audiences for all of classical music, AYS is dedicated to providing the community with the highest caliber of concerts, creating access and opportunity for everyone to experience the joy and inspiration of this beautiful art form.
It is important to AYS to be a resource for the community, and in recent years they have expanded partnerships to include collaborations with Title 1 LAUSD schools through the Share-A-Stand musical mentorship program, as well as organizations like the Skirball Cultural Center and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In addition, AYS regularly provides bus transportation and other assistance to bring members of underserved communities to concerts. AYS is proud to be part of this diverse and vibrant city of Los Angeles, and excited to continue growing and evolving with this community.