Youth orchestra holding tryouts Saturday for all South Florida musicians

The Florida Youth Orchestra will be holding its auditions Saturday at the University School on the Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie to welcome a new crop of child musicians for its 26th season.

The 25-year-old not-for-profit will be accepting about 65 new students to fill the spots of graduating or leaving students. The auditions, which are only held once a year, will be open to talented musicians in any instrument and between the ages 5 and 18, said spokeswoman Myra Gross Schoen.

Tryouts will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Prospective students must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and should make an appointment for an audition, but the orchestra will not turn away anyone who wants to audition, Gross Schoen said.

About 150 applicants are expected to audition for the nearly 400-member orchestra and what could be a classical music outlet in a school system focused mainly on band programs.

“It fulfills a very important function for kids for their education creatively, intellectually and socially,” Gross Schoen said.

President Myra Weaver started the orchestra in 1988 along with late husband Bob Weaver, known as Weaver the Weatherman for WTVJ-NBC6. They wanted to give students in the tri-county area an avenue to expand their musical spectrum.

“There is no opportunity for children to perform and appreciate classical music, so we wanted to expose them to symphonic music as an art form and let them have the experience of performing the works of great masters,” Weaver said.

Thirty professional musicians, led by Thomas Sleeper, a composer, conductor and music professor at the University of Miami, train students in seven orchestra divisions based on level of expertise, Gross Schoen said.

Each orchestra division has its own concert series culminating in a large final performance at the Signature Grand in Broward County. Past concert series destinations have been at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Coral Springs Center for the Arts, Bailey Concert Hall in Fort Lauderdale and the Miami Seaquarium.

Rehearsals begin in September and run through May.

For the talented students who participate, the orchestra can offer them skills that will help them in their life and in their academic careers, too.

“They are enhancing their musical skills but at the same time they are developing life-long behavioral traits such as concentration, commitment, responsibility and cooperation,” Weaver said.

Students can make an appointment for an audition by contacting Florida Youth Orchestra at 954-962-5666 or

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