“One month before starting my senior year in high school, I was on an airplane bound for Japan with the DC Youth Orchestra. I could not imagine then how deeply my musicianship, sense of community, and love of learning would be influenced by being a member of DCYOP. The ripples of formative experiences in the program continue to resonate in my life.” – Maestro Kenneth Whitley, ’79

Since 1960, the DC Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) has fostered the musical development and transformed the lives of over 50,000 young people.

1970 DCYO at White House, photo by Louise Bucknell
1970 DCYO at White House, photo by Louise Bucknell

In 2014, DCYOP was awarded a grant from the Humanities Council of DC by way of the National Endowment for the Humanities to document its history. Over the past 50+ years, the late Walter Hawthorne collected documents, media and photos to help craft this story. With the support of founder Lyn McLain and several other alumni, DCYOP is currently creating a documentary as a sequel to Growing up with Music, shown below.


To all of our alumni, please reach out, tell us who you are! Many student lists and other historical documents were lost in 2011 when DCYOP moved from Coolidge to Eastern High School. We need your help – send us your stories and tell us the impact DCYOP had on your life. Give us a call at 202-698-0123 or send us an email at  

girl & boy playing trombone