The mission of the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras and Ensembles is to provide young musicians of Central Iowa an opportunity to expand their musical and social perspectives while performing challenging, yet age-appropriate repertoire.

Participation in the Youth Orchestras builds upon the musical instruction students receive through their private lessons and school music programs. Musicians audition in August for Des Moines Youth Orchestras Conductors, who determine appropriate orchestra placement. Mid-season auditions are offered in December for musicians participating in fall sports. Musicians must be enrolled as active participants in their school music program to be eligible for participation in the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras.


All Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras current and prospective musicians must audition each year.  For these auditions, musicians are asked to prepare a short musical selection which demonstrates their current ability level.  Audition pieces do not need to be memorized or performed with accompaniment.  Auditioning musicians will play for the following Youth Orchestras and Wind Ensemble Conductors, who will place musicians in the ensemble that is most appropriate to their current ability level:

  • Musicians in grades 1-6: Mr. Meyer
  • Musicians in grades 7-9: Ms. Senger
  • Musicians in grades 10-12: Mr. Giunta & Mr. Meunier

These auditions generally last about 2-3 minutes and are scheduled by reservation. Auditioning musicians will not be asked for scales or sight-reading. Auditioning percussionists will need to audition on snare drum, timpani or xylophone.

2022-2023 Season Auditions 
Auditions for our 2022-2023 season will take place on Tue Aug 30 and Wed Aug 31, 4-7pm at The Temple for Performing Arts. 

To schedule an audition, please e-mail  Please include your student musician’s name, instrument and 2022-2023 grade level in your e-mail to us.

The Des Moines Symphony Academy offers tuition assistance in the form of need-based scholarships to any student with no discrimination towards a student’s color, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability. The purpose of the Symphony Academy’s scholarship program is to ensure that family finances do not prevent any student from participating in private lessons, classes, or ensembles at the Symphony Academy.  

Apply for a Symphony Academy Scholarship
Scholarship Application Form

Scholarship Application (Spanish)

Scholarship Application (Vietnamese)

Scholarship Application (Myanmar Burmese)

Youth Ensembles

  • Youth Jazz Orchestra
    Youth Jazz Orchestra Age: Grades 9-12 Dates: Wednesdays, 5:00 - 6:30 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $450 per school year

    Led by Academy alumnus Nate Sparks, our new Youth Jazz Orchestra will provide high school musicians with a progressive big band experience on repertoire surveying historic and current Swing, Latin and Backbeat Jazz styles. 

    Lessons in theory, harmony and improvisation techniques included in all rehearsals. 

    2022-2023 Season Auditions
    Wed Oct 12, 4-8pm
    The Temple for Performing Arts

    Auditions will last about ten (10) minutes.  All musicians new and returning must audition each season.  

    General Audition Expectations 

    Click the link below to view a spreadsheet of available audition times (you will not be able to edit this document, just view it). This spreadsheet will be updated on a daily basis, Monday through Friday. You will need to email to reserve your audition time. If you do not have a time preference, please specify which day works best for you and we will email you your assigned time in early October.

    Youth Jazz Orchestra Audition Sign-Up Sheet

    Register for Youth Jazz Orchestra

  • Preludio Strings
    Preludio Strings Instructor: Matt Meyer Age: Grades 1 - 4 Dates: September - May Time: Thursdays 4:45 PM - 5:30 PM Location: Temple for the Performing Arts Tuition: $400 per school year

    Preludio Strings is designed to provide young string players with their very first ensemble experience. Through rehearsal and performance on unique music materials created exclusively for them, Preludio Strings musicians will receive thoughtful guidance in laying the foundation for effective ensemble skills.

    Membership is open to any young musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass who are currently in Suzuki book 1 or who have completed their first year of orchestra at their school.

    Recommended Ability Level: Suzuki book 1 or completion of first year of school orchestra

    Register for Preludio Strings

  • Youth Sinfonia
    Youth Sinfonia Instructor: Matt Meyer Age: Grades 4 - 6 Dates: September - May Time: Tuesdays 4:45 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $500 per school year

    Youth Sinfonia is an exciting opportunity for beginning string players. Through rehearsal and performance on a variety of repertoire, Youth Sinfonia musicians will develop their technical and musical skills while learning to play together as an ensemble.

    Membership is open to any young musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass. A minimum one year playing experience is required. Youth Sinfonia musicians will work mainly in first position.

    Recommended ability levels: Suzuki book 2–3, reading music, shifting through 3rd position for 1st violins, keys of C, G, D, F

    Register for Youth Sinfonia

  • Youth Philharmonic
    Youth Philharmonic Instructor: Michele Senger Age: Grades 7 - 9 Dates: September - May Time: Tuesdays 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $500 per school year

    Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is the next step up from Youth Sinfonia. It offers a unique orchestral experience for the talented, intermediate string player. Participation in Youth Philharmonic will offer the necessary building blocks for excellence in all your musical endeavors.

    Membership is open to any intermediate musician playing violin, viola, cello or bass.

    Recommended ability levels: Suzuki books 4–6, shifting through 3rd position, demonstrating vibrato and a variety of bowing techniques

    Register for Youth Philharmonic

  • Youth Symphony
    Youth Symphony Instructor: Joseph Giunta Age: Grades 10 - 12 Dates: September - May Time: Mondays 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $500 per school year

    Youth Symphony provides a unique orchestral experience for advanced high-school musicians in Central Iowa. Under the guidance of Maestro Joseph Giunta, Music Director and Conductor of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, the Youth Symphony provides the only full orchestral experience for pre-professional musicians in the Des Moines area.

    Participation in this group promotes a top-notch musical experience through the study and performance of standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary works. The Youth Symphony performs at least two concerts during their season.

    Membership is open to dedicated high school musicians playing standard orchestral instruments.

    Recommended string ability levels: Suzuki books 7+, shifting past 5th position for all violins and violas, thumb position knowledge and harmonics for cello and bass, ability to play in all keys

    Register for Youth Symphony

  • Youth Wind Ensemble
    Youth Wind Ensemble Instructor: Robert Meunier Age: Grades 9 - 12 Dates: November - May Time: Mondays 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM Location: Temple for Performing Arts Tuition: $450 per school year

    Youth Wind Ensemble provides motivated and accomplished high school woodwind, brass and percussion musicians with the opportunity to develop their musicianship and leadership skills through the study of traditional and cutting-edge wind ensemble repertoire under the musical direction of Robert Meunier, Director of Bands at Drake University. 

    Register for Youth Wind Ensemble

  • Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles
    Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles Age: Grades 9 - 12

    Advanced students from the Des Moines Symphony Youth Orchestras Youth Symphony may be chosen to participate in one of our honors ensembles. Each Honors Ensemble is coached by a member of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. The purpose of these ensembles is to give our high achieving Youth Symphony musicians with a unique music learning and performance opportunity.  Our Honors Ensembles serve as music ambassadors for our Academy by performing at schools and other events throughout our community.  Past ensembles have included a string quartet, brass quintet, horn quintet, woodwind quintet and percussion ensemble.  

    Register for Youth Orchestras Honors Ensembles

  • Zauberflöte
    Zauberflöte Instructor: Anne Stein Age: Advanced high school Time: Sunday afternoons Tuition: $175 per 10-week session

    Zauberflöte is an elite flute ensemble selected by audition only and includes up to five flutists. The group rehearses year-round and performs extensively throughout the Des Moines area. Past members include students in flute degree programs and members of college and university ensembles. The “Zauberflöte Experience” is intended to challenge, stimulate and inspire advanced flutists with playing and leadership skills and grow as performers.

    Register for Zauberflöte