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Recent News

Senior Spotlight: Katie Huszcza, cello

Chloe McIntosh

"My best advice would be to love what you do and enjoy every second of it. Life’s too short to not being doing what you love. When you love making music, it will show through and your audience will feel it too. If you plan to pursue a career in music and you have that passion for creating or performing music, then you truly will never work a day in your life."

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AYPO Awarded American Orchestras' Futures Fund Grant from League of American Orchestras

Jason Spencer

The American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras One of Seventeen Orchestras
to Receive League of American Orchestras
American Orchestras’ Futures Fund Grant

$30,000 Grants, Made Possible by the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, Highlight Array of Inventive Programs Taking Place at Smaller-Budget Orchestras and Youth Orchestras


New York, NY – Highlighting the groundswell of innovation occurring at smaller-budget orchestras and youth orchestras across the country, The American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras (AYPO) is one of seventeen orchestras that have received $30,000 American Orchestras’ Futures Fund grants from the League of American Orchestras, made possible with the generous support of the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.

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Three Guest Conductors to Lead AYSO during 2017-2018 season

Jason Spencer

AYPO announces the appointment of three guest conductors - Nell Flanders, John Devlin, and Glenn Quader - to lead the American Youth Symphonic Orchestra during the 2017-2018 season. 

Nell Flanders’ conducting credits include performances with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mannes Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, Secret Opera Company, Peabody Symphony, the Riverside Orchestra, and the Chelsea Symphony, with whom she starts as a staff conductor in September 2017. She has served as cover conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic and assistant conductor of the Peabody Opera program and the Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic. Ms. Flanders will lead AYSO on their opening concert (November 19, 2017) with Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Borodin's Symphony No. 2. 

John Devlin is the Cover Conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his work with the NSO, he is the Assistant Conductor of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, and the Artistic Director and Conductor of Gourmet Symphony. An active conductor of high school and collegiate ensembles, Devlin previously served as the Music Director of the McLean Youth Orchestra and the Youth Orchestras of Prince William. Mr. Devlin will conduct AYSO on their February 25, 2018 concert with works by Brahms, Smetana and Tchaikovsky.

A native of Washington, DC, Glenn Quader returns to AYPO having previously served as conductor of the Concert Orchestra from 2014-2016.  Mr. Quader’s most recent professional appointments include Conductor of the Piedmont Symphony, Music Director of the Frederick Symphony Orchestra, and Conductor for the Maryland Lyric Opera. Mr. Quader will lead AYSO on their final concert of the year on May 20, 2018.

To read more about the AYSO guest conductors, please visit


AYPO Chamber Ensembles on the Millennium Stage

Jason Spencer

Students from the AYPO Chamber Ensemble Program performed on the Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on May 22. More than 200 people attended the free concert that featured works by Brahms, Mozart, Schumann, Fernandez and Beethoven.

Congratulations to the following students on their performance: Xander Day (flute), Jasper de Boor (violin), Christina French (bassoon), Catie George (clarinet), Betelihem Hadgu (violin), Cameron Harper (clarinet), Annika Hsu (violin), Caley Koch (cello), Juliana Layendecker (violin), Ryan Lee (viola), Calvin Liu (violin), Clara Na (piano), Sam Panner (violin), Daniel Park (piano), Sharon Park (cello), Segada Panano (bassoon), Shannon Prescott (oboe/english horn), Won Seok Song (cello), Courtney Tern (clarinet), and Ella Wood (viola).

The AYPO Chamber Ensembles are coached by the Ensemble da Camera of Washington (Claire Eichhorn, clarinet; Ricardo Cyncynates, violin; Anna Balakerskaia, piano).

AYPO Receives Gift from Bannon Foundation

Jason Spencer

Dr. Graham Elliott, AYPO Executive Director, receiving the first installment of the grant from William Bannon, Foundation Trustee

Dr. Graham Elliott, AYPO Executive Director, receiving the first installment of the grant from William Bannon, Foundation Trustee

The American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras (AYPO) is grateful to the Bannon Foundation for its generous gift to the AYPO Endowment of $150,000 to increase the amount of financial and and scholarships we are able to offer each year. The money will be received in five annual installments of $30,000 and $5,000 of that money is earmarked for the immediate benefit of students, while the remainder is added to the current endowment funds. Each year AYPO provides financial support and merit scholarships funded by interest from the endowment. The goal is to increase these funds to an invested sum of $1 million to allow many more students to take part in the program of five orchestras and five instrumental ensembles.

AYPO Students Perform At Vinson Hall Retirement Community

Jason Spencer

As part of AYPO's continued commitment to community outreach, students from AYP, AYSO and AYCO performed for residents of Vinson Hall Retirement Community on Saturday, May 20. Students performed works by Bach, Vaughan-Williams, Debussy, Vivaldi, Saint-Saens, and Rachmaninoff. Students that performed were Daniel Han (cello), Miya West (violin), Noah Portner (clarinet), Daniel Zhang (violin), Ryan Chon (cello/piano), and Ramya Griddaluri (violin).

17-18 Auditions Deadline EXTENDED to May 15th!


The AYPO Auditions Deadline for the 2017 - 2018 Season has been extended to Monday, May 15th. Visit the Auditions tab on our website for access to the application form, audition requirements, and school music form. 

Contact the office at 703-642-8051 or with any questions!

Sylvia Alimena Named Interim Music Director of AYPO


AYPO is pleased to announce the interim appointments of Sylvia Alimena as Music Director of AYPO and as Principal Conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic (AYP) for the 2017-2018 season. Ms. Alimena is currently the Associate Conductor of AYP and the Director of the AYPO Brass Fellowship for Orchestral Arts, a role in which she will continue to serve.

Christopher Zimmerman, Artistic Director of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras and Principal Conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic (AYP), will step down at the end of this season after four successful years with the organization. During his tenure, Maestro Zimmerman prepared and directed the group for numerous major concerts and has introduced an exciting array of guest soloists. Board President Robert Sollinger commented, “Our musicians and audiences have benefited richly from Maestro Zimmerman’s talents as an educator and musician. We wish him continued success, and we look forward to future engagements with Chris as a guest conductor.”

 “We are delighted that Sylvia Alimena has agreed to serve as interim Music Director and Conductor of AYP for the coming season. We have gained enormously from Sylvia’s work with AYPO in a number of ways, and notably her charismatic influence on the talented young brass players who have learned so much from her varied experience and her superb musicianship,” said Executive Director Graham Elliott. “Sylvia is a gifted teacher and motivator of young musicians and we can be confident that the top orchestra will flourish under her leadership, and the whole organization will gain from her oversight as interim Music Director.”

Ms. Alimena, a passionate and dedicated educator, served as the NSO Summer Music Institute Assistant Conductor, NSO Youth Fellowship Program coach, and NSO Youth Fellowship Program private horn instructor and lecturer. As Music Director of Brass of Peace, she has been an educator and mentor to some of the most renowned brass musicians in the country.

During the past 31 years, Sylvia Alimena has worn many musical hats in the Washington musical arena. She came to the Washington area as second hornist of the National Symphony Orchestra (1985-2014) under Mstislav Rostropovich. She later founded and conducted Eclipse Chamber Orchestra (1992-2012) and was music director of the Avanti Orchestra (1995-2003) and the McLean Orchestra (2003-2010).

A native of Long Island, Ms. Alimena considers herself the product of an excellent public school system and youth orchestra programs. She is the recipient of a Boston University Distinguished Alumni Award and was voted into Washingtonian Magazine’s Musical Hall of Fame in 2003.

AYPO closes its 52nd season on June 4th as Maestro Zimmerman leads Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique in his final performance as AYP’s Principal Conductor. He will return as a guest next season to conduct Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony.  

Highlights and repertoire for all ensembles will be announced soon for the 2017-18 AYPO season. Be sure to register to be a part of another year of AYPO!

AYPO Students Win Misbin Competition!

Jason Spencer

AYPO Chamber Ensembles were well-represented at the fourth-annual Misbin Chamber Music Competition on April 23. Congratulations to the following students:

FIRST PLACE: Querencia Quartet (Calvin Liu, Annika Hsu, Ella Wood, Caley Koch) 
SECOND PLACE: Trio Giusto (Jasper de Boor, Romain-Olivier Gray, Kevin Wang)
HONORABLE MENTION: Cantabile Quartet (Juliana Layendecker, Betelihem Hadgu, Wonseok Song, Daniel Park)
MISBIN PRIZE: Cantabile Quartet (Juliana Layendecker, Betelihem Hadgu, Wonseok Song, Daniel Park)

The AYPO Chamber Ensembles are coached by the Ensemble da Camera of Washington (Claire Eichhorn, clarinet; Ricardo Cyncynates, violin; Anna Balakerskaia, piano). 

Prize winners may be invited to perform at events that may include: Happenings at the Harman, Levine Introduces, pre-concert performances at Washington Performing Arts events, the annual Waterford “Best of Levine” Concert Series and may also include performances at the National Gallery, Millennium Stage, and appropriate master classes.



Summer String Academy 2017!


Jump-start your AYPO experience this summer with the AYPO Summer String Academy! Rising 3-6 grade musicians are invited to participate in a week dedicated to building a great foundation for orchestral playing. The AYPO Summer String Academy will prepare musicians for the upcoming season in the Debut Orchestra with a specific focus on music literacy, sight-reading and ensemble skills. During the Academy students will have the opportunity to play side-by-side with experienced student mentors from AYPO and work with Debut Orchestra Conductor, Laura Cahn. 

There is an opportunity for older musicians in AYPO to assist as mentors for Summer String Academy. Visit the Mentors tab under Summer String Academy for more information.

July 31 - August 4

9:00-4:00 PM
Concert on Friday, August 4th at 3:00 PM

Providence Presbyterian Church

9019 Little River Turnpike
Fairfax, VA 22031

Tuition: $475

Visit the Summer String Academy tab to find the registration form and for more details about this exciting music program! 

AYPO Students Selected for National Youth Orchestra

Jason Spencer

Congratulations to AYP musicians Danielle Kim (flute) and Alvin Chung (percussion) on their acceptances into the National Youth Orchestra of the United States!

Following a comprehensive audition process and a three-week training residency with leading professional orchestra musicians, these remarkable teenagers embark on a tour to some of the great music capitals of the world to serve as dynamic music ambassadors. In 2017, the orchestra will travel to Latin America with conductor Marin Alsop and perform a program that includes a new Carnegie Hall–commissioned work by Gabriela Lena Frank and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1. The tour kicks off with the orchestra’s annual concert at Carnegie Hall, continuing with stops in Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia.





Jason Spencer

REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Friday, March 24, 2017


The members of the Brass Sections of the top three AYPO orchestras invite you to join them on Friday, March 31st at 7 p.m., for our very first Brass Bash which will leave you feeling inspired to take your playing to the next level!

We’ll start the evening at 7 p.m. with a short performance by our brass section of one of our favorite works for brass ensemble, then we’ll invite you to join us in music for brass choir. After the brass choir readings, at 8 p.m., the AYP brass staff and special guests will hold an excerpt clinic for each instrument group at which they will share all of the secrets you need to have a successful American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras audition on June 10th. From 8:30 to 9:30, all brass players are invited to perform in and observe a master class given by our staff and special guest clinicians.

The grand finale of the evening will be a full brass reading of a major orchestral work followed by conversation with current musicians and artistic staff over pizza and beverages.

Music for this brass choir and orchestral reading will be sent to you by email.

We look forward to seeing you on March 31st!

AYPO Brass members and Sylvia Alimena, Associate Conductor AYP and Director AYPO Brass Fellowship for the Orchestral Arts

2017 - 2018 Auditions!


The 2017 - 2018 Audition Season is here! 

Visit the Auditions tab to find all of the information about requirements and timeline. 

Questions? Visit our FAQ page or email

Meet Your Artistic Staff - Laura Kaufman


AYPO engages highly talented artistic staff with incredibly interesting backgrounds. Learn more about our Flute Ensemble Director, Laura Kaufman.

1.     What is your primary instrument and when did you start playing?

I started playing the flute when I was seven years old. Both my older brother and sister played instruments at the time, and being the youngest I naturally needed to do everything they were doing—so I insisted on playing an instrument as soon as possible! I picked the flute specifically because I remember hearing it in an orchestra concert, and thinking it was the most beautiful sound in the orchestra.

2.     What is your favorite piece of music to play/conduct?

I have so many favorite pieces of music, it is so hard to choose one! My favorite orchestral piece changes every day depending on my mood, but right now it is Symphony No. 3 by Brahms (Mvt. 3!). My favorite piece to play for solo flute is "East Wind" by Shulamit Ran. I love playing it because it has so much depth and a wide range of extreme emotions in one piece.

3.     What drew you to AYPO?

I wanted to create a flute ensemble in the area, and AYPO is a fantastic organization to collaborate with given the level of faculty and students. Even before I moved to Northern Virginia I had heard about AYPO during my undergraduate studies at the Eastman School of Music—I had a few friends that came from AYP—they absolutely loved playing in the orchestra, and would brag about how great it was!

4.     What professional jobs do you have outside of AYPO?

I am very honored to be the flutist in a wind quintet called District5. We specialize in new music and transcriptions and also presenting concerts in innovative formats; we use lighting effects, improvisation, and sometimes even choreography. Outside of playing in the quintet, I enjoy teaching privately and freelancing with local symphonies in the DC area.

5.     Did you play in a youth orchestra when you were young and if so, can you please share a bit about that experience?

I played in a youth orchestra in New Jersey called the Northern New Jersey Youth Symphony. It was a really small youth orchestra compared to AYP, but it was my first chance to play amazing orchestral repertoire—definitely one of my inspirations to become a performer.

6.     Who are your musical mentors?

My flute teacher at Eastman, Bonita Boyd, made a huge impact on my musical outlook: she helped me develop my own unique musical voice and encouraged me to go after every single opportunity available.

7.     What is some of the best advice you have received in your career?

The best advice I have ever received has been to forge my own path and to become a master of as many skills as possible. I absolutely love performing as a soloist and playing in orchestras, but I also enjoy having a lot of different aspects of my career. The projects I enjoy the most are the ones that I have created: District5 (wind quintet), creating innovative concerts, teaching in my private studio, etc. These are things that I have complete artistic control over and are the most rewarding. In today’s world, most successful musicians need to be able to do a little bit of everything in the field of music, not just play solos and orchestral music. Of course they need to be fantastic and dynamic musicians, but they also need to be innovative and masters of various styles, contemporary and baroque music, marketing, networking, recording, and so much more!

8.     What are some of your hobbies/activities outside of music?

I love to cook! I absolutely love cooking and baking; I have the most fun going through cookbooks or Pinterest searching for a new amazing recipe. I also enjoy spending time with my husband and our goldendoodle named Bear. Bear follows me around the house most of the day when I’m home, but he is just about the cutest dog in the world and will do anything for a tummy rub!

Introducing: the AYPO Flute Ensemble!


AYPO is excited to announce the formation of our newest ensemble, the Flute Ensembe. Under the direction of Laura Kaufman, the Flute Ensemble will rehearse weekly on Mondays from 5:30-6:45 and will perform twice in the spring season. Any flautist with two years of experience is invited to join.

For more information about the Flute Ensemble and how to apply, click here.

Questions? Contact us via email,, or call 703-642-8051.