The mission of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra Association is to provide the finest possible youth orchestra programs, inspiring and educating young musicians through the performance of great works of music and offering valuable cultural opportunities to the community.
DYAO was founded in 1977 under the auspices of the Denver Symphony Orchestra (now the Colorado Symphony) as a means for Colorado's most talented young musicians to rehearse and perform together under demanding professional standards. For nearly 30 years DYAO consisted of a single, 80 piece, pre-professional level orchestra along with several chamber ensembles and outreach programs. In 2005 the Board of Directors implemented a strategic plan to begin training additional students in high quality orchestral performance. Since 2005, DYAO has expanded with the addition of two training orchestras and four group violin classes at local elementary schools. Last season, DYAO served more than 250 young musicians through its combined efforts.
Although DYAO structures its programs to mirror the expectations of professional orchestras, it understands that only a small percentage of its students will pursue a career in music. Students who graduate from any of DYAO's orchestras learn skills through music that enriches their lives no matter what career path is chosen. These lessons include teamwork, dedication, mental focus, personal responsibility, and how individual pieces work together to make a larger whole.
Current Programs: DYAO is comprised of three large ensembles, four group string classes and several chamber ensembles:
- DYAO, Colorado's most advanced youth symphony orchestra consisting of approximately 90 members, performing at a pre-professional level. Students in this orchestra range in age from 12 to 23.
- the Conservatory Orchestra, with members ages 10 through 18, which rehearses and performs intermediate and advanced orchestral works preparing students for membership in DYAO and beyond.
- the String Ensemble, in which young string players ages 7 through 13 explore string orchestra literature and develop their ensemble-playing skills.
- Group Strings Class: The Group Strings Class, currently present at Park Hill Elementary, Polaris@Ebert Elementary, Doull Elementary, and Jewell Elementary, instruct students as young as six how to play the violin. This class partners with DYAO's Tune Up! program to provide scholarship assistance to economically disadvantaged students.
- Chamber Ensembles: Chamber music ensembles range from three to five musicians and ages from 7 to 23. Because chamber ensembles consist of solo instruments working together, it challenges students to quickly grow in areas that an orchestra may not. This may take place in a camp or students have groups on their own.
DYAO's orchestra membership is between 200-250 students from 90 schools and universities. Members come predominantly from metropolitan Denver, but each year a few musicians travel long distances to participate, some from as far as Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, and the mountain communities.
DYAO performs regularly in Colorado's finest concert halls including Boettcher Concert Hall, Gates Concert Hall (University of Denver, Macky Auditorium (University of Colorado, Boulder), and the Lakewood Cultural Center. Every three or four years DYAO travels internationally, and DYAO just traveled in June 2019 to Prague, Salzburg, and Vienna. DYAO students regularly collaborate with professional musicians through coaching sessions and concert soloists. Recent soloists include Silver Anomai, Edgar Meyer, the Marcus Roberts Trio, Ricardo Iznaola, Michael Thornton, David Korevaar, and Katie Mahan. DYAO is also the only youth orchestra honored with an annual Side-by-Side concert with the Colorado Symphony, in which DYAO members perform alongside professional symphony musicians.
DYAO is an artistic affiliate of the Colorado Symphony.
"Receiving a scholarship from the Denver Young Artists Orchestra donors is paramount. You can feel confident you are changing people's lives. Being in the Denver Young Artists Orchestra is going to change everything for a musician who has potential."
-Selyne Tibbetts-Pagan, bass