The Hawaii Youth Symphony is among the largest youth symphony programs in the country, serving 700 students annually from more than 100 schools across the state.  Incorporated in 1964 with a single 80-member orchestra, HYS has grown nearly 8-fold in the past  half century with 13 different programs. We offer a complete spectrum of out-of-school music programs organized under two sections: the HYS Academy and Symphony Program. To ensure that no interested child is turned away from a quality music education because of financial need,  HYS distributes more than $35,000 a year through its  financial aid program.  HYS offers assistance  for registration fees, instrument rentals, private lessons and air and surface travel for neighbor island students.

School-Year Programs


Entry into the three symphony orchestras are by blind-audition only. Private lessons are highly encouraged  (financial aid available for students in need) and students are highly encouraged to participate in their school music programs.

Concert Orchestra (CO) is HYS’s introductory symphony orchestra. Students enter with a variety of different experiences but tend to have at least 2-4 years of music experience. Repertoire is varied and students gain valuable performance experience. Hannah Watanabe, Conductor  Wayne Fanning, Associate Conductor

Youth Symphony II (YSII) is HYS’s growth orchestra, geared towards intermediate to advanced music students who want to play serious orchestral literature. Students tend to have 4-6 years of music experience. Elton Masaki, Co-Conductor  Susan Ochi-Onishi, Co-Conductor 

Youth Symphony I (YSI) is HYS’s showcase orchestra where students are already highly accomplished and focus is on the nuances of music. Students usually have at least four years of experience. Literature includes major symphonic works and world premieres. Joseph Stepec, Conductor

Chamber Music Program. When funding allows, HYS offers a free chamber music program for students in YSI and occasionally, YSII.  Chamber ensembles are coached by professional musicians and educators. Ensembles perform in two recitals and at least two community service performances in hospitals, care homes or other community facilities.


The HYS Academy is an early-learning music institute offering the basics of music study for the absolute beginner to intermediate-level students. The Academy houses two lines of programming, the String Program and Music in the Clubhouse. All HYS Academy classes are held at the Boys & Girls Spalding Clubhouse.

STRING PROGRAM offers instruction on violin, viola, cello and string bass:

Beginning String Ensemble (BSE) for the beginning student with little or no music experience. Intermediate String Ensemble (ISE) for students with one to two years of experience on their string instrument. String Orchestra Ensemble (SOE) for students to begin working on ensemble repertoire in a string orchestra. Students, on average, have two years or more of playing experience. Entry is by audition only. Concert String Orchestra(CSO) for intermediate-advanced students who comprise HYS’s most advanced string orchestra. Entry is by audition only. Music in the Clubhouse offers low cost programming to give students exploratory experiences into music. Music4Kids are general music classes for students 7-9 years old. Boys & Girls Club Band is for beginning band students, ages 10 years and older, who may  not have band programs in their school, want to try a second instrument or explore band in an out-of-school environment.

Summer Programs


Part of the HYS Academy, Summer Strings offer daily classes for five weeks between June and July. Beginning Strings is for students with little or no music experience. Intermediate Strings is for students with at least one year experience who want to sharpen their skills over the summer.


For more advanced students, the Symphony Program offers PMI, a one-week music immersion program for intermediate and high school students who are serious about music.