The ISO Symphony, under the baton of Barry Stern, is the top ensemble among ISO’s three major groups and one of the leading youth orchestras in the New York City area. Its alumni include musicians holding principal chairs in professional orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities. Several notable conductors are also among its alumni, including James Gaffigan (chief conductor, Lucerne Symphony, Switzerland) and Tito Muñoz (Music Director, Opéra national de Lorraine & Orchestre symphonique et lyrique de Nancy, France).
Students range in age from 12 to 19 and come from every part of New York City. Slightly more than half attend public schools, with the others split among private and parochial schools and home schooled. The ISO Symphony rehearses weekly and twice a year takes part in sectional rehearsals led by members of the Metropolitan Opera and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. Symphony members have recently taken part in masterclasses given by musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Shanghai String Quartet, and the American Brass Quintet.
The ISO Symphony performs two major concerts annually in venues such as Symphony Space, Rose Theatre at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. It shared a triple bill in 2013 at Carnegie Hall, and in 2012 it performed there to a sold-out house along with ISO’s other orchestras. At the latter concert, it presented the commissioned world premiere of “Air for Flute and Orchestra” by Lowell Liebermann with Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson of the Met Opera Orchestra as soloist. In 2019, the ISO presented a groundbreaking collaboration with Mingus Dynasty, featuring numerous world premieres and guest artist Renée Manning. It also performs community concerts annually for children, seniors, and others lacking access to orchestral performances. It has undertaken international tours to Scotland, Spain, and Venezuela.
An audition is required for membership, as are registration and tuition fees. The Symphony rehearses Wednesday afternoon/evenings.
Conductors & Coaches
Excerpts from ISO at Third Symphony and the Mingus Dynasty | Spring 2021
Barry Stern, conductor
Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake
(video of their joint concert with the Amersfoort Youth Orchestra from The Netherlands)