In the spring of 1982, Mesa Public Schools’ Wayne Roederer, and interested parents and music educators from the East Valley, began exploring the potential for developing a youth orchestra. Their goal was to provide a challenging program of excellence in orchestral music for young school musicians through the ninth grade. The first Metropolitan Youth Symphony season was launched that very year as more than 150 young people participated in the September auditions. The gala premiere concert, November 10, 1982, featured two string orchestras and one full symphony orchestra.

The growth of Metropolitan Youth Symphony has been impressive.   Currently in our 35th season, the 340+ members of MYS, under the direction of Karalee Hagen-Executive Director and Division 1 Conductor, Lew Felton-Associate Musical Director and Division 2 Conductor, Amy Bennett-Division 3 Conductor, Cicely Brazier-Division 4 Conductor, Jeff Quamo-Wind Ensemble Conductor, and Scott Glassar - Debut Orchestra Conductor, are divided into four string orchestras, one full symphonic orchestra, and a symphonic wind ensemble. Auditionees are placed in the appropriate ensemble by performance skills. As they progress, each member has the opportunity to advance and participate in the next performance level ensemble. Each season, our members attend weekly rehearsals and perform in at least four formal concerts. Over the years MYS has grown to six 25- to 85-piece ensembles, plus a fiddler's group (Lew Felton) and honors quartets (Taylor Morris). MYS is widely recognized in the Phoenix metropolitan area, and is known for musical excellence. In partnership with the schools and local community, and our community outreach programs, we have two music educators on our board that serve as liaisons to schools in the metropolitan area; encouraging participation from every district and school program in the valley.

MYS is proud to offer a unique and high quality musical experience for youth seldom found at any school level. Our youth ensembles have been invited to perform in a variety of locations including Phoenix Symphony Hall, the Mesa Amphitheater, Fiesta Mall, Disneyland and multiple performances in Washington, D.C. In 1993, members of Division 1, our full symphony orchestra, received the honor of performing at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall under the direction of Wayne Roederer, founder and current Musical Director Laureate.

MYS ensembles are pleased to perform in the Mesa Arts Center, a multi- million-dollar facility, as one of Mesa Arts Center’s founding resident companies. In addition to our concert series, MYS sponsors a formal recital series, instrument sectionals, a solo scholarship competition and weekend retreat in Prescott for the Division 1 members.


Founded in 1982, Metropolitan Youth Symphony (MYS) is one of the valley’s most established youth education programs dedicated to professional symphonic training for instrumental students. Members come from all over the Phoenix Metropolitan area and from a wide variety of economic and cultural backgrounds to perform with the MYS ensembles.

Each week during the season these young musicians spend a rehearsal studying and performing outstanding literature with the finest of music educators and conductors in Arizona.

In addition to our symphonic programs, we offer a fiddlers’ program for our Division 1, 2 and 3 members. The MYS Fiddlers perform at public and private functions throughout the valley as well as our final MYS concert in the Mesa Arts Center, Ikeda Theater. The MYS Honors Quartet Program is an additional offering to our most advanced string members from Division 1. This unique season-long quartet study program emphasizes chamber ensemble performance skills.


As these fine young people perform and progress along with their peers, they represent you and your school programs as members of one of our valley’s most established youth organizations.


To educate young instrumental musicians through the 9th grade in the art of symphonic performance through the use of the world's finest music developing character, discipline, leadership, cultural awareness, and a strong commitment to excellence; thus, enabling MYS to contribute to the Valley of the Sun’s rich cultural heritage and create a higher level of appreciation for the performing arts.