The CCO Youth Orchestra

Established in September 2017, 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). We welcome applicants on the following instruments: violin, viola, cello, bass, oboe, bassoon, horn, trombone, tuba, and percussion.  Be sure to read through the audition requirements and general information before contacting us, to insure you are able to meet the requirements.

General Information

  • The CCO Youth Orchestra rehearses on Sunday evenings from 7-9pm at Ithaca High School.  In its inaugural season, there will be two concerts: January 13, 2018 and June 9, 2018.
  • 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.  For those joining for the second semester only (after the January auditions) tuition would be pro-rated at $200.  A limited number of scholarships will be available to accepted students with financial need.

Audition Guidelines are listed below.

Ready to apply?  Click here to apply online.
Please send any questions 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.

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
171 East State St. #112
Ithaca, NY 14850

Pay online:
Click here to submit payment securely online.
Be sure to note the student’s name when paying online, to insure the funds are properly credited.

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

     — Prepared solo piece demonstrating advanced technique (equivalent to NYSSMA level 5/6)
     — Three 4 octave scales in major and minor, plus arpeggios at a relatively fast tempo
     — Orchestral excerpt from Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, last movement (request a copy at
     — Be prepared to follow conductor’s baton in your solo piece and/or orchestral excerpt for rubato
     — Possible sight-reading

Questions?  Please email us at

Photo: Jari Poulin

Meet the CCO Youth Orchestra conductor

Known throughout the Americas for her dynamic energy and passionate work with young musicians, conductor and violinist Kirsten Marshall is 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.  Ms. Marshall received Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) with majors in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy. Ms. Marshall also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Case Western Reserve University, with an emphasis in strings.  Her conducting studies were with David Einfeldt (Hartt School of Music), Carl Topilow and Louis Lane (CIM).  She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society.

Ms. Marshall has conducted the 2016, 2014, 2012 and 1998 Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas at the biennial Suzuki Association Conferences, as well as conducting the faculty orchestras for the youth piano soloist in both the 2008 and 2010 conferences.  She has also been a featured conductor at Suzuki institutes and All-State festivals across the United States and New Zealand, including most recently Alabama and California All-State.  An avid supporter of contemporary music, Ms. Marshall co-commissioned and premiered a new sonata for violin and piano by Robert Paterson. Her own work as a composer and arranger for string orchestras includes Capriccio dell’ombra and Osker’s Song.  She has conducted and produced two premiere string orchestra pieces on a CD released by Ithaca Talent Education (Bach to the Future).

Ms. Marshall is an active violinist in the Ithaca area and is a member (David and Leslie Sagan chair) of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. She is frequently sought after as a string clinician at Suzuki institutes and workshops across the United States.  Her high-energy style blends humor and passion, engaging players at the highest level for riveting performances.


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Call: 800 838 3006


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