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About the Orange County Youth Symphony

Founded in 1970, the Orange County Youth Symphony is the official youth orchestra of Orange County. Our diverse roster represents student musicians from nearly 40 high school and college programs from San Clemente to Fullerton and more. The Orange County Youth Symphony community of young musicians and their families is particularly committed to advancing and sharing the intercultural love of orchestral music. We serve as music ambassadors to each other and to our local schools, districts, and cities.

With the support of a small staff and board, the orchestra is energetically led by our music director and conductor, Daniel Alfred Wachs. Visit Maestro Wachs’ website for more information on his career, education, and projects.
Artistic Management & Staff

Guest Artists

Distinguished Educator Award



Our Mission

The mission of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra is to provide pre-professional training to Orange County’s most talented young musicians through varied performance opportunities, and by establishing an environment that develops creative ability, self-expression and the desire for perfection.
What We Do

Over a nine-month season (September-May), our members participate in performances, workshops, rehearsals, a concerto competition, and a three-day mountain retreat.

Educational & Community Outreach
The Orange County Youth Symphony additionally serves to support and supplement music programs across the County.
  • • Presented in longtime partnership with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, our annual Concerts for Fifth Graders series has impacted more than one million students since the 1980s.
  • • The Youth Symphony recently began inviting select high school programs to jointly perform in our season finale concert, doubling the size of each ensemble and providing new platforms for access and inspiration to all students.
  • • All Youth Symphony musicians are required to participate in their respective and primary string, band, or orchestral programs. This reinforces both ensembles since each individual student is immersed in symphonic literature.


In our 48-year history, the Orange County Youth Symphony has traveled the world representing Orange County’s best young adult musicians. Locations visited include Austria, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and Carnegie Hall.
Recent Success

  • • Orange County Youth Symphony received the prestigious American Prize in Orchestra Performance—Youth Orchestra Division in 2012.
  • • Among others, it has performed new works by Mark-Anthony Turnage (including a U.S. commission and premiere) and Kurt Schwertsik and has hosted notable guests such as Ray Chen, Midori, and the Kronos Quartet.
  • • Past collaborations have included the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra presented by the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall, TEDx at Chapman University, and the West Coast Youth Orchestra Festival.
  • • In 2014, the Youth Symphony celebrated the Philharmonic Society 60th season finale and farewell performance for Dean Corey with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. This event was selected by PBS SoCal for multiple broadcasts.


“The performance was smashing thanks in no small part to the exceptionally well-practiced pre-professionals, who brought a sparkle to the Salzburgers’ sound that wasn’t there before…They are the real thing.”
— Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, on a joint concert with the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg

“Wachs led a wonderfully clear and patient traversal, finding order in complexity. The young musicians appeared to have little trouble with the work’s progressive language.”
— Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register, on the United States premiere of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Passchendaele, an OCYSO co-commission

“The young players gave an excellent performance and earned the tremendous ovation they received…Charismatic director Daniel Alfred Wachs was excellent throughout.”
— Bristol Cathedral (UK) performance