SMSO at Merrill Robert Lehmann
Welcome to the Youth Ensembles at the Osher School of Music of the University of Southern Maine

Congratulations on a great 2023-24 concert season!

Audition for the 2024-2025 Season:

PYWE and PYSO (woodwind, brass, or percussion) Audition Preparation Materials

Auditions will be held Tuesday, May 21; Wednesday, May 22; and Thursday, May 23 from 3:00–7:00 p.m. in Corthell Hall, University Way, on the USM Gorham Campus.


  • Tue. May 21 – Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Violin, and Viola.
  • Wed. May 22 – All Strings – Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet, Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Harp.
  • Thu. May 23 – Percussion, Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba

Additional Audition Information by Ensemble

conducted by Robert Lehmann

The Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) is made up of over 70 musicians ranging in age from 13 to 18. Established in 1942, the PYSO has grown into a pre-professional program of high caliber which challenges its members with a diverse repertory of choice symphonic literature.

Weekly rehearsals during the academic year are Wednesdays from 5:45-9 p.m.

Audition requirements: String players should have advanced technical command of their instruments and display musical maturity. Comfort in upper positions, a broad range of bow strokes, advanced control of intonation, as well as tone quality and vibrato are required.

Woodwind, brass, and percussion players please follow the instructions listed under “Portland Youth Wind Ensembles.”

All players should have previous ensemble experience. Confidence in sight-reading and familiarity with all major and minor three-octave scales is expected [basses: two-octaves]. The solo selection(s) should demonstrate advanced technical command and lyrical expression.

In 2025, in addition to the usual Youth Ensembles concerts, PYSO will be performing a side-by-side Discovery Concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra at Merrill Auditorium on Sunday, April 6, 2025, with a rehearsal from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the 2:30 p.m. concert.

conducted by Dino Liva (Ferdinand Liva)

The Portland Youth Junior Orchestra (PYJO) is an intermediate-level string orchestra, which has as its primary goal to train players to move into the PYSO. It stresses the building of solid fundamental orchestral skills, improvement in sight-reading ability, and presents members with challenging and varied repertory.

Weekly rehearsals during the academic year are Wednesdays from 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Audition requirements: Candidates must play one or two pieces that best demonstrate their playing in slow/lyrical as well as fast/technical music. In addition, you must prepare one major and one minor three-octave scale, through three sharps and flats [basses one or two-octave scales] Candidates should be able to demonstrate; a spiccato bow stroke, familiarity through five (5) positions, as well as a well-developed vibrato and tone. Cellos should have an acquaintance with tenor clef. A moderate sight-reading proficiency is expected.

conducted by Hanna Flewelling

The Portland Young People’s String Consort gives less advanced string players training for the PYJO, a chance to become familiar with playing in an ensemble situation, following a conductor, and gaining formal concert experience. Established in 1979, the PYPSC offers adjunct support to string programs in Maine schools

Weekly rehearsals during the academic year are Wednesdays from 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Audition requirements: Candidates must have the ability to read music, use basic bow strokes (legato, staccato, detaché), and have started shifting and vibrato. Candidates should prepare one or two contrasting pieces of their choice and a two-octave major or minor scale.

conducted by Dr. William Kinne, Director of Bands, Osher School of Music at USM.

The Portland Youth Wind Ensemble is an auditioned wind ensemble of outstanding young woodwind, brass, and percussion players. It is dedicated to enriching the lives of young people by refining both technique and artistic expression through a varied repertoire of music. Selected members are invited to also join PYSO, the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra.

Weekly rehearsals during the school year are Wednesdays from 5:45-7:15 p.m. in Corthell Hall on the USM Gorham campus.

Audition requirements: Auditions are open to all woodwind, brass, and percussion instrumentalists entering grades 8 through 12. Auditions are approximately 8 minutes in length.

NEW Audition Requirement for Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion Auditions

Membership dues

The annual membership cost is $350 for each member. There is a fee reduction for families with more than one participant.

Your dues support the mission and operations of the Youth Ensembles.

Ensemble Schedules

NOTE: The first rehearsal for the Fall 2024 semester is Wednesday, September 4 – the second day of the term after Labor Day, giving the groups 9 rehearsals for the Fall. Potential new members should contact the main office at (207) 780-5265 for audition information.

2024-2025 schedules are not ready yet, but will be posted here for downloading.


  • Monday, November 4, 2024 at Merrill Auditorium (confirmed)
  • Sunday, April 6, 2025 at Merrill Auditorium, PYSO only, Side by Side Discovery Concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra.
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2025 at Merrill Auditorium (confirmed)

Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evenings between 5:45–7:15 p.m. in Corthell Hall on the USM Gorham Campus during the school year. Students invited to play in PYSO (Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra) rehearse from 5:45 until 9:00 p.m. We do not rehearse on common school vacation weeks. 

Attendance: To maintain the high artistic standards expected of our ensembles, students are expected to commit to attending every rehearsal possible. Excessive absences, typically more than two per concert cycle, may result in the student being suspended temporarily.

Parking and Transportation Information During Rehearsals

Beginning in August of 2023, the University implemented a new ‘PAY BY PLATE’ parking fee system for visitors to campus. In order to validate your parking, you must follow the directions on the signs at each lot. For more information, visit This must be taken care of at the time you park your vehicle, or you can do this in advance of arriving on campus. You may want to consider purchasing one of the discount passes available.

Save on gas and time by taking the bus. The Greater Portland Metro “Husky” line travels from the downtown Portland Elm St. Metro Hub, with stops on the Portland campus, on Brighton Ave, and at the intersection of bus routes in downtown Westbrook, and ends in front of Bailey Hall on the Gorham campus. Student rates apply. The bus schedule is here:

Parking is available in lots G3 and G4 across from Corthell Hall. When you park on the campus, please park in a legal parking space. Do not park along the street or on a lawn, this is a safety issue for emergency vehicles. Parking tickets received for infractions at handicapped spaces and out-of-lot parking cannot be appealed. Lot G6 in front of Corthell Hall is too small to handle drop-offs which could put fellow ensemble members at risk. Please drop off your child on the sidewalk beside Corthell Hall, or in a larger parking lot

Thank you for your interest in the Osher School of Music Youth Ensembles.

Youth Ensembles Coordinator, (207) 780-5265


Visit the Handbook on the Web

You may also request a pdf version by emailing us.

Meet The Conductors

Hanna Flewelling, String Consort

William Kinne, Youth Wind Ensemble

Robert Lehmann, Youth Symphony

Ferdinand Liva, Junior Orchestra

History of the Youth Ensembles

On March 22, 1942, the first rehearsal of the 65-member Student Philharmonic Orchestra, was held at the Chestnut Street Church. That orchestra was created, and conducted for 32 years, by Clinton W. Graffam Jr., a Portland Symphony Orchestra oboist, and whose father was one of the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s founders. The first concert by the Student Philharmonic was given on the following May 19 at Portland City Hall Auditorium before an audience of 1,200. The concert was sponsored as a benefit for the War Service Department by the Maine Federation of Music Clubs. In place of an admission fee, concert-goers donated sheet music and phonograph records, which were to be distributed to members of the Armed Forces throughout Maine.

The orchestra eventually became known as the Junior Symphony, then the Portland Symphony Youth Orchestra — a part of the PSO’s educational and community outreach. In 1979-80 two more youth groups were added to the program — The Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and Portland Young People’s String Consort. In 1996-97 all three youth ensembles came under the administration of the School of Music of the University of Southern Maine (then called the Music

The Osher School of Music is proud to carry on the tradition of offering high-quality performance opportunities for middle and high school students from around the region and is grateful to the parents, schools, and educators who help to make these opportunities possible.