The InterSchool Orchestras of New York (ISO) proudly offers a comprehensive youth orchestra program that serves hundreds of young people in New York City. ISO has demonstrated its commitment to excellence in its ensembles, performances, and programs designed to meet the needs of school children of various abilities. Its musicians truly reflect the face of New York City, representing a multitude of ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds.
The Ensemble Program
- The core of ISO is its orchestra program, consisting of eight graded ensembles. These young musicians rise to the challenge and exceed the high musical expectations held forth by their professional conductors while supported by their instrumental coaches. The program is enriched each year with coaching sessions by professional orchestral musicians and a concerto competition.
- ISO ensembles perform as many as twenty concerts each year in major venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, community centers, nursing homes, and churches throughout the City, reaching an audience each year of nearly 8,000. Free concerts in city schools performed by ISO ensembles introduce more than 1,000 students each year in traditionally under-served communities to the excitement of ensemble music. This is the only program in New York City where students see children their own age performing orchestral music. Please contact ISO’s office to arrange a free concert.
- With its scholarship and sliding-scale tuition programs, ISO provides more than $180,000 each year in financial aid, ensuring accessibility for all who wish to explore the excitement of ensemble playing. All students in the ISO Symphony are on full scholarship to guarantee there are no financial barriers to a student’s ability to participate.
Subsidized Music Lessons
- Endangered Instrument Program* – Lessons are subsidized to encourage students to play less popular instruments being sought by orchestras: oboe, bassoon, double bass, viola and French horn. Proficiency on these instruments enhances a student’s high school and college prospects. To be considered for the EIP please fill out and submit the Endangered Instrument Application 16-17.
*Recipients of Endangered Instrument Scholarships must be members in good standing of an ISO ensemble. A limited number of instruments are available for free loan to ISO students, with preference given to students receiving subsidized lessons.
Student Mentor Program
ISO is excited to announce the Student Mentor Program for members of ISO Symphony and Concert Orchestra. This new program provides students with the opportunity to interact with members of ISO’s younger orchestras to inspire and model excellent orchestra etiquette.
Our goal is for older students to experience music education from the viewpoint of an instructor and learn to work with younger students. Feedback from coaches and conductors will be provided during the year, as well as community service letters at the end of the year.
The mentors will aid the conductors and coaches during rehearsals, and play alongside the younger students. They may help by working with coaches during sectionals for example, or conductors may ask them to demonstrate passages, or suggest technical advice. The younger students will benefit by seeing just how much they can accomplish in the long term if they continue to practice their instrument and participate in ISO ensembles.
Parents seeking music teachers for their children might want to start with our list of Recommended Teachers.
To continue musical studies through the summer, please see our list of recommended Summer Programs.
ISO collaborates with a variety of organizations to enrich its programs.