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.
Are you interested in participating in the Wichita Symphony Youth Orchestras? Sign up for our Audition Email List to ensure that you receive information about next season's auditions as soon as it becomes available.
If you'd like to support the WSYO program, please contact Tiffany Bell at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss sponsorship options.
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.
Dr. Mark Laycock
Director of Youth Orchestras & Ensembles Program
Youth Symphony Conductor
Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Endowed Chair
Conductor of the Wichita Youth Symphony and Director of the Wichita Youth Orchestras & Ensembles Program, Dr. Mark Laycock is a Professor of Music at Wichita State University, where he holds the Ann Walenta Faculty of Distinction Endowed Professorship. He has been recognized with the WSU Excellence in Creative Activity Award and the College of Fine Arts Excellence in Teaching Award. He serves as Director of Orchestras and Coordinator of Strings. WSU Symphony Orchestra appearances under his direction include international tours to Spain and Canada, a concert at Carnegie Hall, and multiple invited performances at Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshops. 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, or adjudicator spans 34 states. Appearances in the current season include the Bangkok International String Festival, the all-state orchestras of Florida and Washington, educational sessions at the Conn-Selmer Institute and The Ohio State University String Teacher Workshop, and adjudication in California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, and Oregon. Dr. Laycock served the National Orchestra Festival as adjudicator, clinician, and, in 2018-19, chair of the event. His appearances with professional ensembles include the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Wichita Grand Opera, and Opera Kansas, as well as orchestras in Slovakia and Canada. 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.
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 ninth season as Music Director and Conductor of the Delano Chamber Orchestra. Dr. DeSpain was 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). He conducted Ballet Wichita's productions of "The Nutcracker" in 2017 and 2018. His summer activities include teaching at Camp Allegro and Bows at the Barn and directing a youth program sponsored by the Delano Chamber Players that includes two orchestras. He was a member of the Wichita Youth Symphony during his junior and senior years at Wichita High School East. 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 Association All-State Orchestra from 2015 - 2017.
Eric L. Crawford, Conductor
Mr. Crawford is Director of Orchestras at Wichita High School East and is the Orchestra Curriculum Coach for USD 259, Wichita Public Schools. A native of Dayton, Ohio, he has made Wichita his home, playing in the Wichita Symphony bass section for 21 seasons. The recipient of numerous awards including the Wichita Public Schools’ Good Apple Award, Wichita Arts Council's Burton Pell Award and the Wichita Symphony's Sevart Award, he served as President of the Kansas String Teacher's Association from 2013-2015. He has also served as Chair of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra Committee, and as President of 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:
316.267.5259 xt 105
Youth Orchestras Administrative Assistant
Wichita Symphony Orchestra
Danny is the right hand man for the Education Manager. He helps manage the administrative side of our Youth Orchestras program, and manages WSYO rehearsals. Contact Danny at:
316.267.5259 xt 107
Wind Ensemble Manager, Intern
Wichita Symphony Orchestra
Mily assists the Education Manager in WSYO activities, and manages the Wind Ensemble's Monday night rehearsals.