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El Camino Youth Symphony

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Palo Alto, CA


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Our Story

Founded in 1963 and based in Palo Alto, California, the El Camino Youth Symphony (ECYS) provides young musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area, ages 6-20, with the opportunity to immerse in a high level orchestral training program and perform challenging standard repertoire. 

Two core principles underlie ECYS's mission: Music Education -- to nurture, train and develop young musicians from culturally diverse backgrounds and encourage a lasting appreciation of music; and Musical Excellence -- to provide high-level orchestral and ensemble performance opportunities for young musicians, and to present outstanding musical events for the wider community. 

Regarded as one of the top youth orchestra programs in the United States, ECYS is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors and managed by an administrative staff of five full-time employees, one part-time employee, and a contract bookkeeper. The artistic faculty and staff is comprised of a Music Director/Conductor, 4 Associate Conductors, an Assistant Conductor and Director of Winds, a regular team of instrumental coaches, and a resident chamber music ensemble. Students and their families represent a diverse population, and 100% of graduating high school seniors go on to attend college, many at some of the most prestigious schools in the United States. The 2016-17 operating budget of ECYS is approximately $1.7 Million; in non-tour years, the budget is approximately $1 million. 

For more than 50 years, ECYS has challenged and nurtured K-12 musicians who wish to augment private study, offering training and exposure to symphonic, ensemble, and chamber music repertoire under the direction of superb professional conductors and musicians. More than 400 students from over 100 schools, from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, receive high quality training in six orchestras and ensembles, a chamber music program, and summer workshops. 

The award-winning Senior Symphony Orchestra, directed by ECYS Music Director Jindong Cai, tours internationally every other year with a European tour scheduled for June 2017, and performs with such distinguished guest artists as violinists David Kim and Robert Chen, pianist Jon Nakamatsu, and cellist Zuill Bailey, among others. ECYS provides scholarships to students who require financial assistance. 


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