Holland Symphony Youth Orchestras Information

Holland Symphony Youth Orchestras – Formed in 1988

All students must be members of their school band or orchestra to join the orchestras.  Homeschool students are welcome.

Under Youth Orchestras Tab: “Two formal concerts are held per year in the fall and spring.  Every other year, the Holland Area Youth Orchestra will perform on the Holland Symphony Family Concert in a side-by-side performance of both orchestras.  Given the current status of the global Covid-19 pandemic, concerts will likely be altered to include a virtual viewing option. Kyle Nester is conductor of Junior Strings and Concert Strings.  Dr. Christopher Fashun is the conductor of the high school youth orchestra.

 Click here to fill out an application!

HSYO Response to Covid-19 Pandemic, Executive Orders, and CDC Guidelines
Since March, we have been closely following the guidance offered by the Michigan Governor and health officials on all levels.  We have been sad to cancel our past concerts, but our primary concern is the health and well-being of our student musicians, staff, patrons, and the wider West Michigan community.  Since the introduction of the six-stage “Michigan Safe Start Plan,” we have been in full compliance with those guidelines.
Like all of you, we have been trying to determine the best ways to proceed with our everyday lives in this time of COVID-19.  The staff continues to work hard with ongoing operations and projects that we ordinarily never have time to accomplish.  We also meet regularly (over Zoom!) and ask lots of questions: Is it safe to work in the office together?  Is it safe for a “socially distanced orchestra” to play together?  Can we safely assemble an audience?  If so, what is a safe capacity?  What will our educational programs look like in the fall? What does this mean for HSYO?
Now that schools have begun to release their plans for instruction for the 20/21 school year, we feel confident in beginning the process for making plans for a potential HSYO season. Nearly all Ottawa County schools that have communicated their fall options are taking a two-track approach – in-person, face-to-face instruction and remote learning. After speaking with several area school orchestra directors and discussing our options as a staff, we feel we have put together a plan that can be safely executed while still offering our HSYO families the opportunity to continue to grow their musical skills.
The following health and safety protocols that will be required in order to be in compliance with the CDC guidelines, the Executive Orders implemented by the Michigan Governor, and the procedures required of us as tenants of Midtown Center. We ask that you thoughtfully consider each of these protocols and make a decision that is best for your family regarding your child’s participation in HSYO. We want nothing more than to be able to be together and make music with one another. But we also want all of our students and staff to be safe and healthy so that we can continue to make music for years to come.
In order to be in full compliance with the Executive Orders and CDC guidelines, ONLY STRING players will be allowed to participate in the fall semester of HSYO. Additionally, ensemble size will be determined by the size of the rehearsal space and the ability to properly socially distance all students.
The following health and safety protocols are required to be in compliance with the CDC guidelines, the Executive Orders implemented by the Michigan Governor, and the procedures required of us as tenants of Midtown Center. All HSYO students and staff members will be required to follow all protocols in order to participate in any and all HSYO activities. These include:
1. All students and staff will be required to wear a mask (disposable or clothe that they provide) the entire time the are in Midtown Center, including while they are playing.
2. Parents and families will not be allowed to remain in Midtown Center during rehearsals to avoid unnecessary person-to-person contact. Parents will drop students off outside of Midtown Center and can return to pick their student/s up at the end of rehearsal. Directors and managers will adhere to the start and end times communicated in the HSYO handbook (to be updated and communicated when completed).
3. Rehearsal times for all groups will be shortened to one and a half hours in compliance with the CDC guidelines and Executive Orders implemented by the Michigan Governor. Junior Strings and Concerts Strings will be combined into one group for the 20/21 season and rehearse from 5:00pm-6:30pm in the Study Hall. HAYO Strings will meet from 7:00pm-8:30pm in the Study Hall.
4. All chairs and stands (provided by HSYO) must be wiped down/sanitized before and after each rehearsal with provided sanitizing wipes and cleaners. Parent volunteers, specifically designated students (Cleaning Crew), and HSYO staff will provide this service. All students would be distanced 6 feet apart in compliance with social distancing.
5. Music and folders will be provided by HSYO, however all students will be required to bring their music, folder, and pencil to each rehearsal. Sharing of music will not be allowed to comply with social distancing.
6. Snack will no longer be provided at any HSYO rehearsal to avoid students congregating in small groups without masks on.
7. Cleaning and sanitizing products, glover for Cleaning Crew, and disposable masks (when students forget their own) will be provided through donation from HSYO families in lieu of snack donations.
8. All students and staff must follow the guidelines for using the bathroom facilities at Midtown Center. These guidelines are posted in every bathroom and will be explained to the students at the first rehearsal.
9. All ensembles will be STRINGS ONLY for at least the first semester.
10. Ensemble sizes will be determined by room capacity including social distancing. In order to meet the health and safety requirements, ensemble rosters may be capped at a specific size.

Despite all of these new protocols, however, we recognize that some families have been put under significant financial constraints due to the pandemic. Although many parents and students expressed their gratitude for the thoroughness of our health and safety protocols, they were also unsure that they would be able to continue to participate in HSYO due to financial hardships. With that in mind, we sought to make HSYO possible for all students.

With the approval of the board of directors for the Holland Symphony Orchestra, HSYO is pleased to announce that we will offer participation in the Holland Symphony Youth Orchestras at no cost for the 2020-2021 season. Our hope is that we will be able to maintain a viable program after the pandemic by covering the tuition costs for all HSYO students through the HSYO reserve funds. Tuition income amounts to 33% of our annual budget and covers the cost of the staff stipends.  Additionally, the Holland Symphony Orchestra will be covering the cost of the rent at Midtown Center for one year to allow our youth orchestra program to continue.

With no ticket income as well, we are dependent on donations to cover the remaining costs of the program and are hopeful that any HSYO family, HSO patron, or greater community member who is able to do so would consider making a donation to HSYO in any amount.  We have so appreciated your support of our students and staff over the years and looking forward to many more years to come!

The Holland Symphony Youth Orchestras is comprised of three orchestras:

The Holland Area Junior Strings (HAJS) is a non-auditioned, beginning string orchestra for students with at least one year of experience. Advanced registration is required by completing the application and sending it to the HSO office via mail or online with payment.  The group meets Monday evenings from 4:30-6:00pm, September through March in Room 106 at the Midtown Center. The Junior Strings performs at the HSYO concerts and is administered by the Holland SymphonyYouth Orchestras Steering Committee

The Holland Area Concert Strings (HACS) is an intermediate string orchestra focusing on developing advanced skills who may not be quite ready for the difficulty level of the Youth Orchestra. Auditions requirements are included on this site.  Rehearsal times are Monday evenings from 6:15-8:15pm, September through March in Room 106 at the Midtown enter.

The Holland Area Youth Orchestra (HAYO) is an auditioned high school orchestra.  HAYO is committed to pre-professional training of young musicians in the greater Holland area of elementary through high school age who join the orchestra through a competitive audition process.HAYO has grown from a string orchestra of 35 players to a full orchestra (strings, winds, and percussion), grades 6 – 12, of 60 members. Members of HAYO represent many different schools in the greater Holland and Lakeshore area and are auditioned for membership and chair placement. Chamber music opportunities are available.


We are committed to use standard orchestral literature for a full symphonic orchestra in addition to programmatic arrangements for youth orchestras.

We focus on education as well as performance.

We cultivate excellence under an outstanding conductor and coaches, thus seeking to provide an educationally sound musical experience that will motivate the students to fulfill their potential and to strive for that same excellence.

Lesson scholarships are available to encourage private lessons.

We encourage and sponsor chamber music and chamber ensembles through coaching and performances.

We seek to enhance the cultural environment of the families and communities we serve.

We wish to promote the appreciation of the performing arts in the community through collaborations and guest artists.

We seek to be an inspiration to our members and other young musicians by offering a peer group for students interested in orchestra from several area schools. Through HSYO, talented students who have attained a similar level of expertise and share the love of classical music, motivate and encourage each other.