SYO is dedicated to providing unique and necessary music and arts education opportunities to advancing young musicians throughout Indianapolis and its surrounding areas in an inclusive and safe environment.
SYO Summer Music Programs (formerly known as the Symphonic Youth Orchestra of Greater Indianapolis) is a non-profit summer youth orchestra program founded in 2008 by Shawn Royer. SYO exists to provide unique and necessary music and arts education opportunities to talented youth from many schools throughout Marion County and the Greater Indianapolis area. The program encourages life-long learning by presenting free educational concerts throughout Indianapolis and provides students with a healthy, safe learning environment in which to grow musically, culturally, mentally, and socially. Students are encouraged to take on leadership responsibilities within the organization and to engage in problem-solving activities in teamwork settings. SYO offers a college internship program to selected music education, performance, music therapy, and arts administration majors, and to SYO alumni. SYO students engage with college professors and professional musicians weekly in sectionals, masterclasses, chamber ensembles, and fieldtrips. SYO is committed to providing educative experiences to all talented musicians, regardless of socio-economic status or ability to pay tuition. The summer program typically holds auditions each April. Rehearsals begin at the end of May and run through mid-July.
The SYO program maintains between 80-100 members each summer. In 2017, SYO performed on the main stage of Carnegie Hall as a participant in the Viennese Masters Youth Orchestra Invitational. SYO took a performance tour to Washington D.C. in 2019. SYO has now commissioned three works for orchestra with non-traditional instrumentation, including Blender in 2017 and Rhapsody on Cue in 2018, both by composer Ryan Fraley, and debuted a piece in 2020 by composer Benjamin Dean Taylor.
Students in SYO have fun playing music from various genres, even incorporating choreography and improvisation when appropriate. SYO is uniquely different from other youth orchestras in that it often features instruments that are not usually considered traditional in the orchestral setting. SYO continues to grow and add to the small ensemble offerings, adding a handbell choir in 2018, a jazz ensemble in 2019, an adaptive percussion ensemble in 2020, and a ukulele ensemble in 2021.
SYO subscribes to a democratic educational philosophy, encouraging discourse, student leadership, and student-centered learning activities, and fosters a caring environment by promoting acceptance and inclusiveness for all students. SYO does not discriminate regarding admission or employment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, religion, creed, age, genetic information, or disability.
SYO is an annual recipient of the Lilly Endowment and McCoy Foundation’s Summer Youth Program Fund grant and is proud to partner with other organizations that support music education, including Marian University, the Cross of Grace Lutheran Church Handbell Choirs, and area schools to provide a broad range of opportunities to youth and to provide clinics to music educators and students.