About Our Program
The Houston Youth String Orchestra is excited to begin it’s journey in it’s premier season as the string orchestra of Houston for children ages 5-12 (violin) and without an age limit (cello, viola, double bass). The HYSO program provides students from kindergarten through 6th grade an unparalleled music experience. Students are exposed to orchestra literature at the earliest of ages and are able to grow through a comprehensive program. Students are given the opportunity to perform concerts twice per year under the direction of Houston Symphony violinist, Kurt Johnson. All students have the opportunity to strengthen their listening, ensemble, and music theory skills during rehearsals.
Under the direction of Kurt Johnson, the HYSO is an entry-level orchestra for students with minimal orchestra ensemble experience. HYSO is a string-only group that focuses on teaching the basics of reading music and playing in an ensemble setting. The enrollment is kept smaller (15-20 students) to facilitate a closer teacher and student relationship. Conductor, Kurt Johnson, stresses concepts such as recognition of pitch, rhythmic accuracy, and basic ensemble skills.
- Auditions are not required at this time for participation.
- Acceptance of a position in the orchestra requires a $150 non-refundable deposit.
- Rehearsals: Saturdays 10-11:30am
- Skills of knowledge by September of 2018: 3 scales with 2 octaves ascending and descending, 1st and 3rd position knowledge, Suzuki Book 2 or higher, full-clear tone
- Required rehearsal materials: Adjustable wire music stand, instrument in good playing condition, HYSO folder and music, pencil, water bottle
Application and Tuition
Thank you to all that applied for the 2018-2019 season! We were thrilled to see so much interest in the program! We will be posting 2019-2020 application information here in the winter of 2019. Please stay tuned regarding applications for our beginning string orchestra (no audition) as well as an additional advanced string orchestra (audition necessary).
In celebration of our inaugural season, we will be offering a summer abroad orchestra/chamber music program to all string students in conjunction with the "Summer Music Program at Anatolia College" in Thessaloniki, Greece! Please stay tuned for more information.
All information below pertains to the 2018-2019 season at the present time.
Application and private lesson teacher/music director letter of recommendation deadline is May 15, 2018.
No audition is required at this time. However, letters of recommendation will be weighed heavily regarding acceptance into the program.
15-20 positions will be available with the orchestra for the 2018-2019 season. Once all positions have been filled, we will keep a waitlist on file.
The applicant selection committee plans to accept students based upon date of application (first come first serve) and letter of recommendation. Students will be notified shortly thereafter. If you do not receive any information by June 1, 2018, please contact the HYSO office at 713-423-5073.
Please complete application online and submit teacher letter of recommendation via button below or postal mail to:
Houston Youth String Orchestra
1011 Heights Blvd.
Houston, TX 77008
If you have questions, please contact the friendly HYSO staff at 713-423-5073 or use our contact form below.
$150 deposit, payable by check, is due no later than 10 days after letter of notification is e-mailed to all accepted applicants. This deposit will be applied to the remaining 1st semester balance of dues.
2018-2019 tuition of $700 is payable in two installments:
Installment Due Dates
- June 20, 2018 ($200) and
- November 1, 2018 ($350)
About Kurt Johnson
Kurt Johnson has been a member of The Houston Symphony first violin section since 2001. He received his master's degree in violin performance from Northwestern University and his bachelor's degree from Oberlin Conservatory. Mr. Johnson studied violin with Gerardo Ribeiro, Marilyn McDonald, David Taylor, Almita and Roland Vamos, as well as soloist Rachel Barton. While attending Northwestern, he was concertmaster of the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was also a member of The Grant Park Symphony in Chicago. As a youth he was a winner of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra's concerto competition.
Mr. Johnson is also a baroque violinist. He performs regularly with The Ars Lyrica Ensemble in Houston and Camerata Ventepane in Mexico. In addition to playing the violin he is also an amateur trumpet player and proud father to his daughter, Allegra and son, Luke.