Our Story

One of the first San Diego Youth Symphony orchestras in 1946.

“Making Music Education Accessible and Affordable for All”


San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) has a seventy year history of setting the region’s highest standards for excellence in music education through its Conservatory Programs. SDYS has seen that student adherence to the high standards, self-discipline and teamwork required for musical success provides unparalleled training for future success in any field or educational path. As a result, SDYS is devoted to being a catalyst for community investment in student achievement through music.

Through SDYS’ growing collaborations with parents, educators, researchers, and community partners, music education is being restored and strengthened in local schools to improve student success and as a model for communities across the country. The Community Programs are the focal point of SDYS’ commitment to building community support for student achievement through music. Learn more about our community progams here.


Our Mission

The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory instills excellence in the musical and personal development of students through rigorous and inspiring musical training experiences.  We pursue this mission by:

  • Interacting with all musical communities to broaden cultural horizons.
  • Embracing the diversity of current and prospective students.
  • Enriching the community through programs and collaborations that increase access to and appreciation of classical music.

Our Values

  • Personal Achievement – Motivating and facilitating performance excellence.
  • Community Leadership – Developing respectful and responsible citizenship for the greater good.
  • Inclusiveness – Embracing diversity and promoting collective learning.


Since 1945, San Diego Youth Symphony (SDYS) has given thousands of musicians the opportunity to study and perform classical repertoire at a highly advanced level. It is the sixth oldest continuously operating youth orchestra in the United States and the resident youth orchestra in the City of San Diego’s historic Balboa Park. SDYS’ programs have grown during the twenty-year tenure of Music Director Jeff Edmons from one advanced orchestra of 60 students to over 600 participating in 12 orchestral and wind ensembles at the advanced, intermediate and introductory levels. SDYS also offers chamber music, soloist competitions, group lessons, theory classes, mentor programs and community partnership opportunities to students enrolled in the Conservatory Programs, including the annual International Youth Symphony, organized by Rotary 5340 International Youth Exchange.

As the region’s leading youth music program, SDYS attracts student musicians of all skill levels from across San Diego County as well as neighboring Imperial and Riverside counties. SDYS’ musical excellence has been recognized nationally with a Music Alive/League of American Orchestras “Composer-in-Residence” award. In its 70 years history, the orchestra has performed 14 foreign concert tours in 18 foreign countries.

SDYS student musicians routinely participate in national and international music camps, including the National Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, The LA Philharmonic’s Take a Stand Program, Tanglewood, Interlochen, Aspen, and the Kennedy Center. In addition to students’ musical successes while enrolled with SDYS, many have gone on to leading conservatories and professional careers in performance, composition, and music education.

San Diego Youth Symphony