The Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras Program (WSYO) brings classical music to life for young people in south central Kansas. This program is a key educational outreach arm of the Wichita Symphony and shares in its mission to enrich, educate, and entertain diverse audiences of all ages in our region through performances of orchestral music, thereby enhancing the vibrancy and vitality of Wichita.
Founded in 1947, WSYO’s Youth Symphony is a charter member of the Youth Symphony Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras. Today, the Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras Program is made up of four ensembles that serve over 250 students from 22 cities and towns in central Kansas and northern Oklahoma. WSYO ensembles include the Youth Symphony, Repertory Orchestra, Youth Chamber Players, and Wind Ensemble.
For full descriptions of the ensembles, click here.
WSYO rehearsals take place at Duerksen Fine Arts Center on the Wichita State University campus.
The 2018-2019 auditions have passed, however, exceptions can be made for students new to the area. If you still wish to audition for the 2018-2019 WSYO season, please contact Tiffany Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316.267.5259 xt 105.
Dr. Mark Laycock
Director of Youth Orchestras Program
Youth Symphony Conductor
Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Endowed Chair
Dr. Laycock serves as the Director of Orchestras at Wichita State University where he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship; he serves as Director of Orchestras and Coordinator of Strings. Recent activities of the WSU Symphony Orchestra include international tours to Spain and Canada, a concert at Carnegie Hall, and multiple invited performances at Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) In-Service Workshops. Dr. Laycock has conducted the Wichita Symphony Orchestra in Classics, Pops, and Young People's Concerts. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic; he is Chair of Orchestra Activities. He has conducted All-State, Region, and District orchestras throughout the country. In May 2016, he presented professional development sessions for instrumental music educators in Brisbane, Australia and returned in September to conduct the Sir Charles Mackerras String Orchestra of the Queensland State Honours Ensemble Program. He earned a Doctor of Arts degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Laycock holds a Master of Music degree in instrumental conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and literature from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Wesley DeSpain, Conductor
Delmar and Mary Klocke Endowed Chair
Dr. Wesley DeSpain began directing the high school and middle school orchestras of the Derby Public Schools in the Fall of 2010. He conducted the Friends University Community Orchestra from 2010 - 2014 and is currently in his seventh season as Music Director and Conductor of the Delano Chamber Orchestra. Dr. DeSpain was the Interim Director of Orchestras at Wichita State University for two years (2004 - 2006) and performed as clarinetist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for 25 seasons (1984 - 2009). His summer activities include teaching at Camp Allegro and directing two youth orchestras sponsored by the Delano Chamber Players. He is an alum of WSYO and was a member of the Youth Symphony during his Junior and Senior years at Wichita East High School. Dr. DeSpain holds degrees from Baptist Bible College (B.A.), Wichita State University (B.M.E., M.M.E., M.M.), and the University of Oklahoma (D.M.A.). He served as Chair of the Kansas Music Educators Assocation All-State Orchestra from 2015 - 2017.
Eric L. Crawford, Conductor
Eric Crawford was born in Dayton, Ohio, where he began playing the double bass at age ten. He received his Bachelor of Music Performance degree from Eastman School in Rochester, New York, and his Master of Music degree from Wichita State University. Mr. Crawford has played with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra for 19 seasons and with the Music Theatre Wichita pit orchestra for 15 seasons. He currently teaches orchestra at Wichita High School East, where he is also the Chair of the Performing Arts Department. Mr. Crawford serves as the Orchestra Curriculum Coach for the Wichita Public Schools. An active clinician and guest conductor, Mr. Crawford has directed numerous student groups throughout the midwest. He is also the Program Director for "Bows at the Barn," a summer camp for middle school and high school orchestra students. He served as President of the Kansas chapter of the American String Teachers Association from 2013 - 2015 and is current President of the Wichita Musician's Association.
Dr. Timothy Shade
Youth Wind Ensemble Conductor
Dr. Timothy Shade is currently the Director of Bands at Wichita State University. His responsibilities include leading the WSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, coordinating the graduate wind conducting program and teaching various courses within the school of music. Previous appointments include Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Alhambra Orchestra (FL), Visiting Director of Orchestras at Florida Atlantic University, and Director of Instrumental Music at Bethel College (KS). He has garnered praise for his exciting programming, engaging personality and “marvelous conducting.” Equally comfortable in the orchestral and wind realms, Shade has worked with Greater Miami Symphonic Band, The New River Orchestra, The Naples Philharmonic, The Frost Wind Ensemble, The Florida Youth Symphony, The Wichita Wind Ensemble, The Newton Mid-Kansas Symphony Orchestra, and the Delano Chamber Orchestra.
Education & Community Engagement Manager
Wichita Symphony Orchestra
As Education Manager, Tiffany Bell oversees operations of all Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras and Wind Ensemble activities. For any questions regarding our youth ensembles, contact Tiffany at email@example.com or 316.267.5259 xt 105.
The Wichita Symphony holds the Youth Talent competition annually for members of the Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras. The auditions are open to the public. The selection committee for these awards consists of the conductors of the Repertory Orchestra and Youth Symphony and two professional musicians from the community. These auditions showcase the talent of Wichita’s brightest young musicians and provide opportunities for scholarships to attend music camps and post-secondary schools as future music majors.
Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras activities are made possible with the generous support provided by The Sam and Rie Bloomfield Foundation and The City of Wichita.