Stephen Danyew  

Compose for Youth Orchestras!

Stephen Danyew
May 2, 2019

Editor's Abstract (Click to Hide)

In this article, composer Dan Visconti presents a compelling case for writing for youth orchestras. Particularly relevant to younger composers, Dan's article contains many insightful points that force music creators to seriously consider the many opportunities that youth orchestras may offer. In an age of innovation and self-promotion, it seems crucial for younger writers to use creative thinking to identify opportunities which may be outside of the popular and well-worn path. Dan's article is simply a must read for young composers. Thanks to for letting us share this with you.

- Stephen Danyew

Compose for Youth Orchestras!

By Dan Visconti
Reprinted with permission from (link)
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While many composers dream for a chance to hear their music played by a symphony orchestra, it remains an unfortunate reality that all too few will have the chance to do so. For American composers in particular, managing to get a new work for orchestral forces performed (or even read) can be a daunting task, to say the least; and while it's true that a few major orchestras have made vigorous commissioning of new music a priority, the field has become so saturated that few organizations are motivated to take the risk of working with a neophyte. How, then, is a composer intent on gaining experience with orchestral writing to ply his or her craft?

To this end, I can't recommend youth and school orchestras enough as potential collaborators for less-established composers hungry for experience. I make this recommendation, first of all, because it's how I cut my own teeth, and I count my experiences composing for youth orchestras to be among those that best prepared me for making the transition from student to young professional. All together I've composed four works for youth orchestras: two for the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, one for orchestra and chorus commissioned through the New York Youth Symphony's FirstMusic program, and one for massed strings written for the Suzuki Association of America. Each of these experiences was rewarding in its own way, but I've tried to distill them all into some general comments:

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