Over 300 student musicians from throughout Hampton Roads create five performing ensembles to present concerts throughout the Tidewater area. Students from as far away as Williamsburg, Yorktown, and North Carolina, and as close as Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, and Norfolk attend weekly rehearsals and present several concerts per year at venues throughout the area.

Under the direction and guidance of many supportive music educators for more than 40 years, BYOV has developed into one of the largest youth orchestra programs in the country. Offering five levels of ensemble training, Bay Youth gives student musicians the opportunity to learn and perform the world’s greatest orchestral literature.

Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia is a 501C(3) non-profit organization and receives funding from the Business Consortium for Arts Support of South Hampton Roads, the City of Chesapeake Fine Arts Commission, the City of Norfolk Arts and Humanities Commission, the City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, The Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Bay Youth Junior String Orchestra (BYJST)

The Junior String Orchestra is for young musicians in grades three through seven who are beginning note readers but can demonstrate a good foundation in playing technique. The emphasis in rehearsal will be establishing good rehearsal discipline, rhythmic and note reading skills as well as understanding harmony in ensemble music. This group will perform twice during the year to develop poise and performance skills.

Bay Youth Concert Orchestra (BYCO)

 The Concert Orchestra is composed of students, generally between the eighth and eleventh grades, who have demonstrated an advanced level of playing on their instrument. This group studies and performs master works for symphony and chamber orchestra. The emphasis is on training: acquisition of advanced technical and musical skills, rehearsal discipline and advanced ensemble playing. A string specialist and/or wind specialist will be present to assist the conductor with students’ needs on an occasional basis. Public performances are scheduled three or four times a year. They will perform on programs with both the the String Orchestra and the Symphony during the season.

The Bay Youth Concert Band (BYCB)

This ensemble (formerly Bay Youth Wind Ensemble) will explore standard wind ensemble literature, with emphasis on improving ensemble skills, tone quality, technique, and musicianship needed to prepare for advanced full orchestra positions and high school band programs. The wind ensemble is geared towards middle school students through rising 9th graders.

Bay Youth String Orchestra (BYST)

The String Orchestra is composed of students who have progressed to the intermediate level of performance on their instrument, having mastered the basic skills level (generally after two or three years of instruction). This group studies string arrangements of the chamber and symphonic literature, developing ensemble in a disciplined rehearsal atmosphere. Sight-reading as well as performance skills development are emphasized. Public performances, at least twice a season, give students the opportunity to demonstrate their progress. The age limit for this ensemble is rising 9th grade.

Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra (BYSO)

The Symphony’s members have demonstrated a proficiency on their instrument that will enable them to meet the challenges of performing some of the world’s greatest and most challenging instrumental music. Students performing at this level are expected to have a seriousness of purpose and demonstrate not only preparedness for rehearsals, but professional rehearsal behavior.

The symphony will perform three to four programs per season. Two unique concerts performed each year are the annual Concerto Concert, and the Side-by-Side Virginia Symphony program. Concerto soloists are chosen from an audition held each December. Finalists perform with the orchestra, allowing the orchestra to develop accompanying skills which require a high level of musicianship. The Side-by-Side concert is an opportunity to rehearse and perform beside professional musicians, under the direction of the Virginia Symphony’s Associate Conductor.

Bay Youth Wind Symphony (BYWS)

This ensemble is for the advancing high school band student in grades 9-12. The group will begin rehearsals in December.