The CCO Youth Orchestra

The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra is excited to announce the creation of a youth orchestra! The CCO Youth Orchestra’s mission is to provide a high-quality symphony orchestra experience for youth in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.

Membership is open to all young orchestral musicians (all instruments) in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes Region, playing at a NYSSMA level 5 or 6 (or equivalent).  If you missed the audition date in early June, please contact us to learn about the next audition opportunity.  Be sure to read through the audition requirements and general information before contacting us, to insure you are able to meet our requirements.  Specifically, we still have openings for bassoon, viola, and double bass.

General Information

  • The CCO Youth Orchestra rehearses on Sunday evenings from 7-9pm at the First Baptist Church in Ithaca.  In its inaugural season, there will be two concerts, one in January and one in June.
  • All CCO Youth Orchestra members will participate in their school music programs, unless none is available.
  • The cost for participation is $400 per year, payable in two installments of $200 each in September and January. A limited number of scholarships will be available to accepted students with financial need.

Audition Guidelines can be downloaded by clicking here or scrolling down.

Ready to apply?  Click here to apply online.
Or click here to download the application, which you can then email to

Application Fee
You are welcome to pay the $20 application fee by mailing a check, paying in person at the audition, or paying online.  Please do not submit payment though, until an audition date/time has been confirmed.

Pay by mail:
Checks should be made payable to the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.  Be sure to write “Youth Orchestra” and the student’s name on your check before mailing it to:
Cayuga Chamber Orchestra
Center Ithaca, Mailbox 112
171 E. State St.
Ithaca, NY 14850

Pay online:
Click here to submit payment securely online.
Be sure to write “Youth Orchestra” and the student’s name in the field marked “Add a note.”

Audition Requirements:

  • For the audition, each musician will prepare:
    •  Scales (see below for your instrument’s requirements)
    •  One or two short solo selections that contrast expressive, cantabile playing with fast, technical passagework
    •  Students will also be asked to sight-read
  • Each audition will take 5-10 minutes.
  • Solo works are to be performed without piano accompaniment.
  • The audition committee will listen for musicality and expressiveness, tone quality, pulse and rhythm, technical ease and intonation.

Scale Requirements by Instrument

All strings should prepare the scales with 2, 3 or 4 notes slurred, using vibrato, and with spiccato using 4 bounces per pitch.

Violin, Viola, Cello
Any four major scales in 3 octaves
     — One melodic minor scale in 3 octaves (student chooses the key)

Double Bass
— Major scales in 2 octaves, in E, F, G, A-Flat, A, B-Flat, B and C

     — One melodic minor scale in 2 octaves (student chooses the key)

All Winds and Brass should prepare scales to demonstrate fast, slow, legato, and staccato playing.

     — All major scales in 1 octave, with Ab, Bb, C, G, and A in 2 octaves within the range you can best demonstrate
     — One melodic minor scale in 2 octaves
     — Trumpet and horn players may be asked to transpose

Oboe and Bassoon
     — All major scales in one octave, plus three major scales in 2 octaves
     — One melodic minor scale in 2 octaves

Flutes and Clarinets
     — All major scales in 2 octaves
     — One major scale in 3 octaves
     — One melodic minor scale in 2 octaves
     — Please indicate on the application if you play piccolo, bass clarinet or E-flat clarinet

Percussionists are encouraged to audition on more than one instrument.
All equipment listed below will be provided at the audition.

     — Timpani will be asked for a tuning demonstration
     — Timpani and snare: play a roll (pp-ff-pp) over four measures in common time, quarter note=52
     — Xylophone and marimba: prepare all major scales in 2 octaves, one melodic minor scale in 2 octaves
     — Cymbals: demonstrate loud and soft crashes
     — Tambourine: demonstrate shake roll and thumb roll

Questions?  Please email us at

The CCO Youth Orchestra will be conducted by Kirsten Marshall.
Ms. Marshall has been a long-time member of the CCO and is both the Director of the Orchestral Program and violin faculty member of Ithaca Talent Education, as well as a Lecturer in violin performance at Ithaca College.  She is frequently sought after as a string clinician at Suzuki institutes and workshops across the United States. 

Continue reading Kirsten Marshall’s full bio…



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Call: 800 838 3006