Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra

Since 1986, uniting youth and music …In Symphony! Orchestral training by expert faculty; Main-stage & outreach concerts; Mentorship, musicianship & friendship; Inspiring youth to excellence.

Our Impact Why We Exist

The right musician in the right place at the right time inspired an unprecedented opportunity.

Thirty years ago the late Stuart Knussen, renowned British bassist and passionate advocate of orchestral music, brainstormed with a group of Victoria-area parents and teachers. They provided a vision of an orchestra that would at once welcome and also challenge young musicians. With their inaugural performance in fall 1986 of Beethoven's Eighth Symphony the Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra was born.

Building on a foundation of solid orchestral training, offered by music directors such as Knussen, Janos Sandor, and Yariv Aloni, the GVYO has grown to become one of the most respected youth orchestras in Canada. Distinguished guest artists and conductors such as Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Georg Tintner, Simon Streatfeild, Timothy Vernon, and Ben Heppner have inspired the very best from GVYO players.

These young musicians act as mentors in their own turn, modelling dedication to craft and co-operation, as they encourage their fellow players to strive for their personal best. In the rehearsal hall and on the concert stage, the orchestra brings music to life as only young people can - with verve and enthusiasm, orchestrating joy for themselves and their audience alike.

Our Story What We Do

The Greater Victoria Youth Orchestra exists to:

  • affirm and nourish the love of music in young people
  • challenge young orchestral musicians to achieve the highest standards attainable of instrumental competence and musical performance
  • teach commitment, discipline, co-operation and responsibility through rehearsals and performances
  • pass on a depth of musical understanding through inspired musical direction and leadership
  • foster the development of future audiences and supporters of the arts

The GVYO annually performs three or four symphonic programmes designed to introduce young musicians to masterworks both familiar and rare.  As well, ‘stepping-stone’ opportunities are offered for concerto performances. Besides main-stage concerts presented at the University Centre Auditorium, the GVYO performs regularly for school students, giving children and youth the opportunity to hear symphonic works performed by their own peers. 

Every year GVYO players are selected for positions in ensembles such as the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, l’orchestre de la francophonie canadienne, and Festivals at Banff, Orford, Aspen, Tanglewood and farther afield.  GVYO alumni perform and teach in ensembles, conservatories, universities and schools around the world.   Equally important, GVYO alumni become the informed audience in our concert halls, their lives enriched by the presence of music.

Our Programs How We Do It

Annual Orchestral Training: Annual auditions determine GVYO membership.  Players must take private music lessons.  Membership on acceptance is $250/year.  Bursary assistance is available.  From September through May GVYO professional faculty lead full orchestra rehearsals, regular sectionals, and seasonal workshops, all designed to develop instrumental technique, musicianship, and ensemble skills.  The process results in performances of three or four main-stage symphonic programmes.

Annual Outreach Training: GVYO week-long Summer String Camp is offered to GVYO members as well as to intermediate string students from the community at large.  GVYO Faculty is assisted by senior GVYO players and alumni as coaches and peer mentors.

Additional GVYO programmes:

  • Tours (five year intervals) to share music with residents, especially students, in communities where live symphonic music is rarely heard.  GVYO has toured the length and breadth of Vancouver Island, as well as Okanagan, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and Yukon.
  • Collaborations with Victoria Symphony, UVIC Orchestra, Victoria Baroque Players and other major music ensembles.
  • Commissions of new music by Matthew Larkin, John Oliver and Christopher Butterfield.
  • Recording projects: DVD GVYO: A Work in Progress (Asterisk Productions), CD compilation: The Janos Years (2010);  CD In Performance, works by Sibelius, Grieg and Dvorak (2014).

What You Can Do

Support the GVYO– be recognized, educated and inspired!

  • Attend a GVYO concert – bring a friend – or a student – or a group  –  experience the passion of these gifted and exuberant young musicians!
  • Become a GVYO subscriber
  • Attend an Open Rehearsal – learn first-hand about the GVYO process, and meet the players
  • Donate to the GVYO Society
  • Sponsor a concert
  • Advertise in our concert programmes
  • Attend Winterlude, our annual fundraising dinner and silent auction, and over a delicious dinner with musical interludes learn more about the GVYO organization

If you need more information please visit our website.


Sheila Redhead
Charitable Number: 118946995RR0001

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Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 150,000