Youth Orchestra Concert


“Our aim is to create the next generation of citizen musicians” – Elizabeth Schurgin, Executive Director


The mission of the DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) is “music for young people; achievement for life.” Our goals are to 1.) Provide quality music instruction and performance opportunities for young people across the DC metropolitan area’s full diversity, 2.) Develop a Youth Orchestra capable of competing successfully at the national and international levels, and 3.) Instill in our students the discipline and focus necessary to succeed academically as well as musically.


Founded in 1960 at the request of DC Public Schools, DCYOP has been an integral part of the Washington, DC community fostering the musical development of more than 50,000 youth. The first youth orchestra to perform at the Kennedy Center, DCYOP has toured 20 countries, played for US presidents and diplomats, and worked with esteemed musicians such as Copland, Maazel, Rostropovich, and Hamlisch. The program has received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (formerly Coming Up Taller) and the Mayor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education. The Catalogue for Philanthropy selected DCYOP as “one of the best small non-profits in the Greater Washington region” for its 2012-2013 award year.

Our Philosophy

DCYOP believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and play in an orchestra. At DCYOP, the orchestra serves as a model for community. An atmosphere of competition is replaced by a shared endeavor for musical excellence. Through the ensemble, our young musicians develop the character of respectful team players. And, finally, through the study of a musical instrument and classical music, our students develop the confidence and creativity that empowers them to tackle life’s challenges.

Today’s Programs

DCYOP offers group lessons and ensemble training on all orchestral instruments for students ages 4 ½ to 18. More than 500 students participate in group classes, ensemble rehearsals, and performances each semester through DCYOP’s main-site programming at Eastern High School as well as DCYOP’s school partnerships. All concerts are free and open to the public. To learn more about our programs, please click here.

Who We Serve

With strong financial and public school access barriers, DCYOP is the only preK-12 program that seeks to make high quality ensemble music education available to all students, regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or ability. Our students currently represent more than 200 public, public charter, and private schools as well as a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. To learn more about student demographics, please click here.