History Of MCYO

The Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (MCYO) of Strathmore, formerly the Montgomery County Youth Orchestras, has a long and eventful history. Founded in 1946, MCYO has continued a vibrant orchestral program for talented youth.The mission of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras is to nurture, develop and advance young talented musicians in a quality orchestral program. The MCYO program creates a seamless connection between the artistic and the educational experience. MCYO now enjoys its first permanent home in the grand Music Center at Strathmore.

Over the years, MCYO has added several ensembles to expand its outreach to talented youth. With the help and support of public school music teachers, private school music teachers, and private studio music teachers, the caliber and number of musicians has increased dramatically. The Symphony was formed in 1964, the Young Artists in 1972, the Chamber Strings in 1995, the Harp Ensemble in 2001, and the Sinfonia in 2004. Currently there are over 500 young musicians involved in MCYO selected from over 1200 aspiring musicians.

Many honors have been bestowed upon MCYO. In 1964, in Philadelphia, the Philharmonic performed at the Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Bicentennial Conference. In 1969, the Philharmonic was the first American orchestra to perform at the International Festival of Youth in Switzerland. In 1981, the Philharmonic was the first youth orchestra to be showcased at the Kennedy Center. Hundreds of thousands of listeners, live and on the radio, heard the Philharmonic on the WMAL Christmas Eve day concert, “Live from the Kennedy Center.” This was a longstanding tradition through 2003. In 1987, the Symphony was selected to perform at the MENC Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. In 1995, the Philharmonic and Symphony toured England and Wales. Later that year, the Philharmonic was invited to and performed at the prestigious Mid-West International Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. Two years later, the Philharmonic again performed at the MENC Eastern Division Conference in Baltimore. In 1999, the Philharmonic traveled to Austria, touring four cities as part of the Johann Strauss Centennial Celebration. In 2000, the Philharmonic was one of twenty music ensembles from across the USA selected from over two hundred applicants to perform at the MENC National Conference in Washington, DC. In June 2002, the Philharmonic made its Carnegie Hall debut in New York City.

Also, in 2002, MCYO changed its name from Montgomery County Youth Orchestras to Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras keeping the acronym MCYO.

In 2015, Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras merged with Strathmore Hall Foundation.

Philharmonic members annually perform with the National Symphony on the NSO Youth Orchestra Day. Select MCYO musicians participate in the NSO Fellowship program, and participate in master classes with renowned soloists and teachers. From 1996, various MCYO musicians have performed with the National Symphony Summer Music Institute. Since 1997, select MCYO musicians have augmented the National Festival Orchestra in New York City, performing with college, conservatory and select high school musicians from across the US and Canada in Carnegie Hall.

Many MCYO alumni have continued their music studies at preeminent institutions. Some have performed with prestigious American and European Orchestras and some have become music teachers. MCYO has made its mark on the music world!