Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestra announces new flexible program model

July 7, 2022

Introduces Prelude and Symphony Ensembles For Student Musicians Grades 6th-12th

The Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (SPYO) is growing once again. Since launching as an orchestra for 9th-12th graders in 2019, the community support and interest have been extremely high. Responding to a clear community need, SPYO expanded to include a junior ensemble for 6th-8th grade string students in 2020. Interest in participation has continued to increase, allowing the organization to introduce a new, flexible model for the ensembles that will offer young musicians greater opportunity for membership. Beginning July 1st, the two ensembles of SPYO will be known as Prelude and Symphony.

Formerly known as the SPYO Junior Ensemble, Prelude is a string orchestra for talented musicians working on refining their skills through challenging string literature. Participants will typically range from 6th-9th grade who play string instruments (violin, viola, cello, and bass). For Prelude conductor, Ms. Johanna Wilson, the expanded grade range also provides an opportunity to further expand the ensemble’s repertoire. “SPYO has attracted students serious about honing their instrumental skills, with many starting fairly young. The Prelude Orchestra is designed for those students that are ready for more challenging music but need a bit more refinement and experience in preparation for joining Symphony.”

The SPYO Senior Ensemble will become Symphony, a full orchestra for talented musicians working on refining their skills through advanced orchestral repertoire. Participants will typically range from 8th-12th grade and play woodwind, brass, percussion, and string instruments (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, violin, viola, cello, and bass). “Expanding the Symphony to eighth-graders provides an opportunity for talented young winds, brass, percussion, and string musicians to perform with a full orchestra,” says Symphony conductor, Dr. Susie Lalama. “Symphony audition expectations will be tough, but SPYO musicians step up to the task every time.”

Auditions for the 2022-23 Season concluded on May 18th, participation in which highlighted the need for the flexible new model. “The Spartanburg Philharmonic Youth Orchestra is the only youth orchestra in Spartanburg County. It provides a unique, high-level musical ensemble experience that challenges local students to prepare a more difficult repertoire than their school orchestras have the capacity to perform,” says Executive Director Kathryn Boucher. “In assessing the continuing mission of SPYO, the Spartanburg Philharmonic felt it was important that the program adapt to meet the evolving needs of our community and the students we serve while simultaneously challenging them and enhancing their music education. The new Prelude and Symphony ensembles make this possible while paving the way for the future growth of the orchestra.”

Prospective students will continue to audition for acceptance into either Prelude or Symphony. 8th-9th grade string students have the option to audition for both programs and, if accepted, will be invited to join the ensemble that provides them the best opportunity to grow and excel. “This overlap in programs encourages continued musical growth,” says conductor Dr. Susie Lalama. “We hope it will further inspire students to work hard on their skills and be even more prepared to join their peers at the next level.”

While auditions for the 2022-23 Season are complete, a handful of spaces remain for brass and percussion musicians interested in joining the Symphony ensemble. For more information about SPYO, auditions, and the 2022-23 Concert schedule visit