Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia


The mission of Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia is to provide the highest level of symphonic ensemble training and performance opportunities
to the young musicians of Hampton Roads.

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Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia (BYOV) prides itself on accepting students solely on the basis of their level of musical accomplishment, regardless of age, grade level, school affiliation, city of residence, or financial status. BYOV was founded in September of 1991 by the staff of the former Tidewater Youth Orchestras. The organization was officially incorporated in July of 1996. Our legacy spans four decades of service to the youth of Hampton Roads. The Tidewater Youth Orchestras started in 1972, in response to an informal survey that identified Tidewater as the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without such a program. Under the guidance of prominent local musicians and educators - the late Russell Stanger, director of the Norfolk Symphony, Greg Barnes and Linda Althoff, both public school teachers and Norfolk Symphony performers, and local businessman Meier Birshtein - the area's first youth orchestra was formed. Over 200 high school musicians auditioned at Northside Junior High School. Mr. C. Sydney Berg was chosen to be the first conductor for the new youth orchestra.

Our organization has grown to include five ensembles; Junior String Orchestra, String Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Concert Orchestra, and Symphony Orchestra. The newest of these is the Bay Youth Wind Ensemble, which enables younger students who play wind, brass, and percussion instruments to participate in a challenging ensemble and to prepare for entry into the upper orchestras. We provide education and performance opportunities for over 320 students from all over Hampton Roads. Our season regularly includes four to five concerts in cities throughout the region, as well as an annual collaboration with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra on a Side-by-Side concert. We also collaborate with the Virginia Wind Symphony and the Salem High School Visual and Performing Arts Academy, with our wind ensemble being invited to perform before the Virginia Wind Symphony. We host a Concerto Concert to provide an opportunity for our members to perform with their orchestra as a soloist and regularly seek out additional performance opportunities as outreach or community service projects.

Membership in the Bay Youth Orchestras of Virginia is an honor afforded only to those who have demonstrated instrumental proficiency. Eligibility is only through auditions, which allow the artistic staff to evaluate each student's technical and musical ability, as well as their potential. Once accepted, members are expected to meet performance standards, attend weekly rehearsals, perform in concerts, and fulfill financial obligations. BYOV provides professionally-led training for serious musicians who ultimately aspire to the highest artistic standard. We enable students to become better prepared for college and other auditions, and all areas of advanced study.
"We would like to thank you for your hard work over the past 4 years with our daughter... You have provided her with such a vast amount of experience and helped to form her into the musician that she is today. We thank you for pushing her to meet high expectations, for training her well and for simply caring about her progress and development as a musician." -Hendrick Family

"Over the years that my children were participating in various activities, I can say that Bay Youth was the best organization of which we were a part! Sophia learned and grew so much. All of her instructors, sectional leaders and conductors showed an amazing commitment to teaching! From the parent side, Bay Youth was fantastically well organized, making life so much easier, as we juggled school, sports, concerts, and lessons. Thank you so very much!"-Carole Bowman (BYOV parent)