Orchestras

Prelude Orchestra


Membership Requirements


The Austin Youth Orchestra Academy Prelude Orchestra is limited to sixth and seventh grade students with one semester of orchestra class who are interested in supplemental training. The Orchestra will follow an advanced curriculum for rapid advancement, and will meet on Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m. in the spring semester of this school year at Austin High School.


Membership in the Austin Youth Prelude Orchestra is open to sixth and seventh grade students who qualify through the audition process. Students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra program and upon payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Prelude Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 6:00-7:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Laurie Scott is Associate Professor of Music and Human Learning at The University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, she serves as the director of The University of Texas String Project and the Musical Lives string program at UT Elementary School. She has received both the Teaching Excellence Award from the Butler School of Music and from the College of Fine Arts. A former middle and high school orchestra director, she now mentors young professionals toward successful lives as string educators. In every facet of her teaching Dr. Scott serves as an advocate for inclusive and diverse music classrooms, adult music learners, and access to quality music instruction for all children. Her former students have become exemplary string educators, professional studio and symphony musicians, and passionate arts advocates. She is co-author of the books Mastery for Strings, Learning Together and From the Stage to the Studio: How Fine Performers become Great Teachers.


Recognized by the American Viola Society as both an Emerging Artist and Teacher, Dr. Ruben Balboa III is quickly becoming a sought-after educator, clinician, and performer. Based in Austin, Texas, he currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Concordia University Texas, faculty for Austin Chamber Music Center, and Assistant Director/Coordinator of the award-winning University of Texas at Austin String Project. A strong advocate for music education, Dr. Balboa has presented at the Best Practices Teaching Sessions hosted by the National String Project Consortium and given lectures at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, and classrooms throughout the U.S. Most recently he was invited to give a masterclass for the American Viola Society Festival & 47th International Viola Congress in Columbus, Georgia.He maintains a diverse private studio of violin and viola students, which includes novice and advanced young learners, avocational adults, and students with learning challenges. Dr. Balboa has made it his mission to prioritize the development of young musicians especially those in areas where quality music education programs are not readily available. He continues this work as a newly appointed board member of the American Viola Society, serving on both the Education Committee and the Access, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee.

Concertante Orchestra


Membership Requirements


The Concertante Orchestra is a string orchestra that is designed for beginning musicians with limited reading experience. The Concertante Orchestra focuses on developing internal rhythm, note recognition, reading skills, and fundamental ensemble skills.


Membership in the Austin Youth Concertante Orchestra is open to all interested students grade first to fifth who qualify through the audition process. Students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Concertante Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 6:00-7:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Originally from Mexico City, Mr. Fidencio Solis is the Director of Orchestras at Chapa and Simon MS in Hays CISD. He previously taught at O. Henry Middle School for 16 years in the Austin Independent School District, and he was Director for the Gulfport School District in Mississippi. Mr. Solis also serves as Austin Youth Orchestra Organizer. Mr. Soli­s holds a Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. In addition, he is certified in Suzuki Method.

Mr. Solis has contributed his expertise to the Austin Youth Orchestra for 16 years and gives his time to fellow music educators and their projects. He plays chamber music, performs with community orchestras and freelances around town. He enjoys sharing time with family and friends, making people laugh, making and listening to music, going to the movies, and traveling.


Contact Mr. Solis at mr.solis@AustinYouthOrchestra.org

Intermezzo Orchestra


Membership Requirements


Membership in the Austin Youth Intermezzo Orchestra is open to all interested students grades 1 to 5 who qualify through the audition process. Students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Intermezzo Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 6:00-7:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Colleen Whatley is the orchestra director at Pearson Ranch Middle School in Austin, TX. Prior to opening PRMS in 2017, Mrs. Whatley taught in the Katy Independent School District (Katy, TX) and Houston Independent School District (Houston, TX). Currently in her 15th year of teaching, she has taught strings to all grade levels from 1st to 12th grade. In the spring of 2020, her orchestra was selected as a National Winner in the Mark of Excellence/National Orchestra Honors Project by The Foundation of Music Education, and in 2017, her orchestra was invited to perform at the Music for All's national festival in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Mrs. Whatley received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. She is currently serving her second year on the Executive Board for the Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and is an active member of the Texas Music Educators Association.


When she is not teaching, Mrs. Whatley enjoys spending time with her family (husband Ragan--also an orchestra director, seven-year-old twin sons Connor and Reilly, and four-year-old Nora), running, and exploring the outdoors.


Mrs. Whatley was a 7-year member of the Austin Youth Orchestra, and is excited to return to AYO this year as a conductor.


Camerata Orchestra


Membership Requirements


Membership in the Austin Youth Camerata Orchestra is open to all interested students grades 6 to 8 who qualify through the audition process. Students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Camerata Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 6:00-7:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Ragan Whatley, a graduate of the University of North Texas, will be entering his 14th year of teaching and his 6th year as Director of Orchestras at Canyon Vista Middle School in Round Rock ISD. Prior to that, he taught at Seven Lakes Junior High School and Pershing Middle School in the Houston area. While at Canyon Vista, his groups have maintained state and national distinction through organizations such as the Foundation for Music Education's Mark of Excellence Award and the TMEA Honor Orchestra Competition, including 1st place in the TMEA Honor String Orchestra competition in 2020 and 2nd Runner-Up in the TMEA Honor Full Orchestra Competition in 2022. Mr. Whatley is an active clinician and judge throughout the state of Texas, and maintains professional memberships in TMEA (Texas Music Educators Association), TODA (Texas Orchestra Director's Association), and TMAA (Texas Music Adjudicators Association). He served as TMEA Region Orchestra Chair in TMEA Region 23 for 5 years, and is currently serving his 5th year as the MS/JH Region Orchestra Coordinator for TMEA Region 26. Mr. Whatley lives in Cedar Park with his wife, Colleen, their twin sons Reilly (a cellist) and Connor (a violinist), and their daughter Nora (also a violinist).


Sinfonietta Orchestra


Membership Requirements


Membership in the Austin Youth Sinfonietta Orchestra is open to all interested students in grade 6 and above who qualify through the audition process. Must have at least one year of orchestral experience either in AYOA orchestras or public/private school. String students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Wind and percussion students must be members in good standing in their school band programs. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra/band director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra/band program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Sinfonietta Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 7:15-8:30 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


A 1997 graduate of the University of Houston’s Moore School of Music, Allison Sozansky began her teaching career as an elementary strings specialist in Pasadena ISD. The following year, she joined the late Leigh Ledford at Beverly Hills Intermediate School for a period of three years. Then, in 2001, Mrs. Sozansky and her husband, Phillip, relocated to Round Rock, where she became the orchestra director at Hopewell Middle School. Under her direction, Hopewell’s orchestra program flourished, consistently earning superior ratings at UIL contest as well as having strong participation in both Region Orchestra and Solo and Ensemble contest. In 2008, Mrs. Sozansky became the very first orchestra director in Round Rock ISD to develop a mariachi program for her students. Ms. Sozansky took over the Stony Point High School Orchestra program in 2016. The Stony Point Orchestra program has grown to four orchestras and pushes the envelope of programming with an annual Rockestra concert.


Before children, Mrs. Sozansky enjoyed giving private violin lessons and performing with the Pasadena Philharmonic and Temple Symphonies. With the assistance of a scholarship from the Texas Music Adjudicator’s Association, Mrs. Sozansky attended Mark O’Connor’s fiddle camp in New York City in 2009. A member of Mu Omicron, TODA, and TMAA, she regularly serves as an adjudicator for UIL orchestra contests across the state. When not teaching or performing, Mrs. Sozansky enjoys hiking, camping, and playing football with her husband and their two boys, Alexander and David.


Contact Mrs. Sozansky at allison_sozansky@roundrockisd.org

Philharmonic Orchestra


Membership Requirements


Membership in the Austin Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is open to all interested students in grade 6 and above who qualify through the audition process. Must have at least two years of orchestral experience either in AYO orchestras or public/private school. students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Wind and percussion students must be members in good standing in their school band programs. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra/band director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra/band program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Philharmonic Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 7:15-9:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Anna Macias has served as the Director of Orchestras at Lake Travis High School in the Lake Travis ISD since 1996 and has served as a conductor with the Austin Youth Orchestras since 2003. Ms. Macias has served as an organizer for the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) High School Region Orchestra since 1999. Since 2002, she has served as a faculty member of the Texas State University Strings Camp. Ms. Macias is affiliated with TMEA, Texas Orchestra Directors Association (TODA), Texas Music Adjudicators Association (TMAA), and Mu Omicron.


In addition to her work with public schools, Ms. Macias maintains a private double bass studio. A graduate of Southwest Texas State University with a degree in Music Education, she has studied Double Bass with Xuang Yuan Lu, David Neubert, and Howard Hudiburg. Ms. Macias has participated in master classes with Gary Karr and attended the Northwestern Bass Camp, hosted by Jeff Bradetich. She has performed with the Balcones Orchestra, the Mid-Texas Symphony, the Abilene Symphony, and the Brazos Valley Symphony. Ms. Macias currently performs with the Temple Symphony Orchestra. She enjoys playing the double bass in musical productions and has performed in several popular shows around Austin during the past decade.


Ms. Macias is an active freelance bassist who has been a member of two Salsa bands and a Western Swing band. In 1997, she attended the Texas Music Camp, hosted by Johnny Gimble, and fell in love with Texas old time fiddling and Western Swing music. In 2000, Ms. Macias formed the Lake Travis Fiddlers, a group of talented middle school and high school students who perform old time fiddle tunes and Western Swing music at various hill country functions.


Contact Ms. Macias at MsMacias@AustinYouthOrchestra.org


Josue Martinez is the Director of Orchestras at Westlake High School. Mr. Martinez started teaching in Eanes ISD in 2016 as the Assistant Director of Orchestras at West Ridge Middle School before joining the high school faculty in 2021.


Mr. Martinez holds a Bachelor of Music Education (2016) and a Masters of Music in Instrumental Conducting (2019) from Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas. While at Texas State, Mr. Martinez performed with numerous concert ensembles, including the Texas State Symphony Orchestra, Texas State Opera Orchestra, and the Texas State Wind Symphony.


Mr. Martinez is an active musician in the Greater Austin Area as a freelance double bass player and works with the Austin Youth Orchestra Acadamy's Camerata Philharmonic as their co-conductor. Mr. Martinez is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association, American String Teacher’s Association, Texas Orchestra Directors Association, International Society of Bassists, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, and many more local and international organizations.


When Mr. Martinez is not working or studying, he can be found at home with his two terriers, Artemis and Buster.


Contact Ms. Macias at mrmartinez@austinyouthorchestra.org

Symphony Orchestra


Membership Requirements


Membership in the Austin Youth Symphony Orchestra is open to all interested students in grade 9 and above who qualify through the audition process. Must have at least three years of orchestral experience either in AYO orchestras or public/private school. String students from schools with orchestra programs must be a member in good standing in their school orchestra. Wind and percussion students must be members in good standing in their school band programs. Membership in the AYO program is contingent upon return of the membership acceptance form with the school orchestra/band director's signature verifying that the student is a member in good standing in the school orchestra/band program and payment of the tuition fee.


Rehearsals


The Symphony Orchestra rehearses fall and spring semesters on Monday evenings from 7:15-9:00 pm. All rehearsals are at Austin High School.


Conductor


Mr. Ricky Pringle is the Director of Orchestras at McCallum High School. The enrollment of the orchestra has more than tripled during his time at McCallum High School. Under his baton, string ensembles consistently earn UIL Sweepstakes awards. Ricky Pringle with the McCallum High School orchestras have had several performances at some of the country's best concert venues including The National Cathedral, the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. Mr. Pringle studied double bass and holds Bachelor of Music and Music Education degrees from LSU in Baton Rouge Louisiana. Mr. Pringle continues to perform as a double bassist around Central Texas as well as maintaining a private studio of double bass students. Mr. Pringle appeared in the November 2012 issue of Strad magazine.


Contact Mr. Pringle at MrPringle@AustinYouthOrchestra.org