Orchestra Descriptions


The Symphony is the most advanced ensemble, performing full orchestra repertoire on the university and professional level. In 2012, the Symphony was featured on National Public Radio's From the Top, a rare appearance by a youth orchestra on this nationally syndicated program. Recent HYS seasons have featured works such as Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks by Richard Strauss and Symphonies No. 1 and 3 by Gustav Mahler. The HYS Symphony and its artistic director and conductor Dr. Michael Webster have been frequent winners of prestigious national competitions, including The American Prize and the Mark of Excellence. (Click here to listen to recent performances of the HYS Symphony.)


The Philharmonia is a full-sized orchestra for the advanced player and is comparable to an intensive all-state orchestra experience. Literature choices are designed to expose students to a diversified selection of orchestral music. Recent seasons have featured works by noted composers such as Antonín Dvorak, Gustav Holst and Modest Mussorgsky. The Philharmonia is conducted by Michael Alan Isadore, the 2010 recipient of the Spec's Charitable Foundation Award for Excellence in Music Education presented by the Houston Symphony.


The Sinfonia is a full-sized intermediate level orchestra that allows string players to build upon techniques learned in the String Orchestra and offers woodwind, brass and percussion players a full orchestra experience. The Sinfonia performs symphonic repertoire that is typically played by high school full orchestras, including works by Franz Schubert, Jean Sibelius and Howard Hanson. The Sinfonia is conducted by Dr. Brad Smith, who is also the orchestra director at Houston?s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

String Orchestra

The String Orchestra provides a comprehensive ensemble experience and individualized instruction for developing string players. Repertoire is chosen to introduce new techniques and more complicated rhythms, including styles ranging from Baroque to contemporary. The String Orchestra is led by Co-Conductors Carolyn Vandiver and Ann Victor, who have distinguished themselves as directors of prize-winning orchestras at Stephen F. Austin High School and Sartartia Middle School in Fort Bend ISD.

Preparatory Orchestra

The Preparatory Orchestra provides an introductory ensemble experience for developing string players. The Preparatory Orchestra is led by Dr. Jackson Guillén.