A Message from Dr. Michael Remson, President & CEO

Dear SDYS Students and Families,

I’m writing, first and foremost, to say “thank you” for your continued support of SDYS. On behalf of the entire team, I can’t tell you how much it means to us. When the Governor’s stay-at-home orders were announced, SDYS faced one of the most important questions in its nearly 75-year history: “How do we stay connected and support our families?” Here are just a few ways you have inspired us:

  • Conservatory ensembles continue to meet virtually, continue to make music, and are overcoming obstacles by making music matter. Roughly 80% of Conservatory students are attending weekly get togethers and virtual activities. In addition, weekly private lessons for tuition assistance students have also continued.
  • Students are preparing for their auditions and receiving many types of support from SDYS conductors and teaching artists. And yes, auditions will happen in May and June (using the Accept’d online platform).
    SDYS’ early childhood program ChIMES has gone virtual, sending twice-weekly videos and activities home to hundreds of families from both our Balboa Park classes and through our partnerships with community groups around the county.
  • SDYS’ Community Opus Project is providing private lessons and video-based instruction to hundreds of students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District and is providing teacher training to help teachers adjust to distance education.

Wow. In six weeks, you have inspired us to do a lot. And, one SBA emergency loan later, we’ve done it without furloughing any full-time employee or artistic staff. So thank you again. I know that it’s difficult not to make music and some of you may even be wondering why we keep meeting – this article here from the Washington Post sums it up beautifully. It’s all about the role music plays in our lives and why it matters even more at times like this. I hope you’ll take a look.

We also promised a May 1 update on planned activities. As it is for you and your family, SDYS is working diligently to manage the same uncertainties and unknowns; so please understand that some of these plans might change… but here is what we’re hoping to do at this time:

Spring 2020

Students in ensembles, music theory classes, and sponsored lessons will continue to meet and engage in the activities they have been doing for the last several weeks.
We are planning an SDYS Virtual Community Celebration, featuring every SDYS ensemble as a culminating event for the 2019-20 season. Your ensemble directors will be speaking to the students about this over the next few weekends. Currently planned for Saturday, June 13, we’re looking forward to having every SDYS family join us online to celebrate your accomplishments.

Sponsored lessons students will perform in four different virtual recitals on May 16 & 17.
Auditions for our 2020-2021 season will be from May 8 to June 5 using the Accept’d web portal. Specific instructions (other than those provided in our Audition Handbook) will be made available on May 8. Thank you to the 550 families who have already signed up. If you haven’t registered, you may do so here.
We are also holding our annual scholarship fundraiser, Encore! but taking it online! On Saturday, May 2 at 5:00 pm, please join us for a brief program of music and interviews showcasing everything that SDYS does for our community. Many students are also featured! Everyone is welcome and there’s no charge! The link to join us is here.

Summer 2020

As soon as Governor Newsom and local health officials outline the guidelines that will allow us to re-open safely, we are hoping to offer optional summer activities for students. These might include free week-long “get back into shape” programs for all levels. We’re also hoping to offer affordable second instrument camps and a percussion workshop.

More information on these programs, including locations and the health/safety precautions we will require of all participating students, will be available over the next several weeks, pending county health notifications. We appreciate your patience while we finalize details.

Fall 2020

At this time, we are planning to launch our 75th Anniversary Conservatory Program the first weekend after Labor Day. What exactly that looks like will depend on Governor Newsom and current social distancing restrictions. We are developing plans so that every SDYS student can join us either in a large group, a group of 50 or less, or a group of 10 or less. To do this, we are working closely with Balboa Park, the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation, and our fellow organizations in the Casa del Prado to ensure that the health and safety of every student comes first. This will almost certainly mean regular clean-ups and potentially fever monitors at rehearsals. It may also mean closed rehearsals and virtual concerts, at least to start the year. Our goal is to make music and ensure everyone stays safe.

We are hopeful that we will have more complete information on gatherings and social distancing requirements by our July 2 placement mailing. We ask for your flexibility with SDYS’ commitment that we are doing our best to ensure the smoothest and safest possible start for our anniversary season.

We hope to resolve any remaining questions you have in the coming weeks. Thank you all again for being a part of SDYS.

Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

UPDATE 3/27/2020

On behalf of everyone at SDYS, we hope you and your families are staying healthy as we adjust to life with COVID-19. We miss seeing our students and families every week, but more importantly, we miss HEARING you make music together.

As events related to COVID-19 change daily, we are continuing to monitor the situation and have the following updated information for the SDYS community (listed chronologically).

SDYS offices in Balboa Park are closed until further notice by order of the CIty of San Diego. We will announce reopening dates as soon as we receive word from the City that it is safe and healthy to do so.

Registration for SDYS’ 75th Anniversary 2020-21 Season opens on April 6 (rehearsals begin in September). For current families, please watch for an email in the next few days with details. Information for the broader music education community will be posted on the SDYS website on or before April 6.

SDYS’ April 19 Ovation performance at Copley Hall is postponed. The SDYS Box Office will be in touch with ticket holders to discuss options on or before April 1.

As the situation changes daily and some good news emerges on the global front, SDYS is hopeful that we can save the end of the 2019-2020 Conservatory season. A final decision regarding resuming the season will be announced on or before May 1.

In the meantime, we hope all Conservatory students are receiving our communications with regard to practice tips, audition preparation, and how to keep your musical activities going at home. Sponsored lesson teachers are scheduling online lessons, the music theory and composition class is meeting via Zoom, and many conductors will be holding online or phone sessions for students.

Our annual fundraiser, Encore!, will be held on May 2 as scheduled but will now go virtual! We’re excited to share details of this with you in the coming weeks. Current ticket holders will be contacted by April 3 to discuss options.

Auditions for the 2020-21 season will begin in mid-May as scheduled. We are currently exploring audition options, including on-line, that will safeguard the health of all students and staff. Look for announcements regarding auditions on or before May 1.

Situation permitting, we are exploring options for limited summer programming. We hope to have announcements to you on or before May 15.

Our most sincere thanks goes out to everyone in the SDYS community for your ongoing encouragement and support. Together, we’ll keep the music going!


Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

Jeff Edmons
Music Director

P.S. We hope you’ll consider following us on our social media channels to enjoy the positive messages we’re sharing there.  Facebook is our main channel, with additional postings on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


UPDATE 3/16/2020

As all of us continue to take necessary precautions during this fluid situation, we want to let you know that the SDYS office is now closed at least until March 31. In the interest of the health and safety of our office staff, we are working remotely from home. Please know that we are still available via email and able to check any voicemail left for us in the Balboa Park office.

We hope to provide some alternative programming for our students to offset the disruptions we are all facing. We will do our best to continue to offer quality instruction and resources to our students until we are able to resume normal operations in Balboa Park.

In an effort to give families the time needed to adjust to the current conditions throughout San Diego, we will postpone registration for the 2020-2021 season until early April. At this time, auditions are still expected to take place from mid-May to mid-June. Please email the programs team at conservatory@sdys.org with any further questions.

Please note that currently ALL events, rehearsals, and community activities are currently suspended until further notice.

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time. We look forward to resuming programming as soon as it is safe to do so, and we will continue to be in touch with any new updates.



Dr. Michael Remson
President & CEO

Jeff Edmons
Music Director

San Diego Youth Symphony