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Youth Orchestras

About Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras

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.  

2018-2019 WSYO Concerts

  1. Mar 2
    7:30 PM -
    9:30 PM
    Mar 3
    3 PM -
    5 PM
    The Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras & Ensembles present their spring concerts!

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Donate to WSYO


If you'd like to support the WSYO program, please contact Tiffany Bell at to discuss sponsorship options.

Thank You to Our WSYO Sponsors!

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.

General Schedule

WSYO rehearsals take place at Duerksen Fine Arts Center on the Wichita State University campus.

Please reference your WSYO handbook for a full schedule of WSYO rehearsals, auditions, concerts, and activities.

Absence Forms

All scheduled absences must be reported to the Education and Community Engagement Manager via the online absence form at least one week prior to the anticipated absence (see link below). Dress rehearsal and seating audition absences must be reported at least two weeks prior.


Membership Information

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 or 316.267.5259 xt 105.

Meet our Conductors & Staff

Youth Symphony

Dr. Mark Laycock
Director of Youth Orchestras Program
Youth Symphony Conductor
Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Endowed Chair

Conductor of the Wichita Youth Symphony and Director of the Wichita Youth Orchestras Program, Dr. Mark Laycock is a Professor of Music at Wichita State University; he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship and serves as Director of Orchestras and Coordinator of Strings. He has been recognized with the WSU Excellence in Creative Activity Award and the College of Fine Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Laycock is a member of the Board of Directors of the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic; he serves as Chair of Orchestra Activities. His work as guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator spans 29 states; he has conducted all-state, region, and district orchestras throughout the country. Recent overseas activity includes serving as a Keynote Presenter for the Australian Strings Association National Conference in Perth and Chief Adjudicator for the Victorian School Music Festival in Melbourne. Dr. Laycock has presented clinic sessions for numerous state education conferences, as well as the American String Teachers Association National Conference, the Northwest and Northeast Division Conventions of the National Association for Music Education, and the Midwest Clinic.

Repertory Orchestra

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.

Youth Chamber Players

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.

Youth Wind Ensemble

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.

Tiffany Bell

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:
316.267.5259 xt 105

2019 Youth Talent Auditions: December 15

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.

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