The San Diego Youth Symphony is the region's oldest youth orchestra (founded in 1945), and the sixth-oldest such ensemble in the U.S.
Founded by Leo Scheer, under the sponsorship of the San Diego Park and Recreation Department, the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory gives talented student and pre-professional musicians an opportunity to study and perform classical repertoire at a highly advanced level. The sixth oldest continuously operating youth orchestra in the United States, the SDYS program has grown during the tenure of of Artistic Director Jeff Edmons from one orchestra to three full symphony orchestras and a chamber orchestra at the advanced level, and four large ensembles for students at the intermediate and introductory levels.
In addition, the organization supports a string quartet, woodwind quartet, flute choir, brass choir, two French horn ensembles, an advanced percussion ensemble, and brass quintet. The organization trains over 450 musicians each season.
Musicians who participate in the SDYS programs come from all over San Diego County, as well as from neighboring Imperial and Riverside counties. Small ensembles regularly perform at public and private events throughout the year. Membership at all levels is by audition and ensembles are available for musicians through age 25.
In Autumn 2012, the group was named Grand Prize Winner of BoardSource’s Prudential Leadership Awards for Exceptional Nonprofit Boards, earning a $25,000 award. For their 70th anniversary, SDYS travelled to China in June and July 2015 to play the Summer Youth Music Festival in Beijing, as well concerts in Yantai and Shanghai.