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Youth Chamber Orchestra (CSYCO)

Kirsten Williams, CSO Concertmaster (Image: Martin Ollman)

The Canberra Symphony Youth Chamber Orchestra (CSYCO, pronounced ‘psycho’) is an exciting, new performance enrichment program for musicians aged 14–19 who have reached an advanced level on their instruments.

Unlike a larger youth orchestra, CSYCO will have a focus on unconducted performance for a smaller group of players (approx. 15–20 musicians). Participants will receive training and mentorship from CSO Concertmaster Kirsten Williams, encompassing chamber and orchestral playing, individual performance development, musicianship and professional skills.

CSYCO is an opportunity for dedicated young musicians to extend their instrumental and ensemble skills in a supportive, like-minded peer group.

Other opportunities:

  • Workshops / masterclasses with Jessica Cottis, CSO Chief Conductor and Artistic Director and CSO guest artists.
  • Opportunities to attend CSO rehearsals, pre-concert talks and other activities.
  • Ad hoc, performance opportunities at the CSO Summer Prom and other events.
  • Attractive family pricing for CSO concerts.


Parents, teachers and prospective applicants are invited to join a Q&A session next Wednesday 22 September from 5pm – 6pm, via Zoom. Hosted by Kirsten Williams, CSO Concertmaster, and Lindy Reksten, Orchestral Development Liaison, the session will cover:

  • Why CSYCO?
  • Addressing gaps for advanced music students in the Canberra region
  • Enriching other ensembles and performance opportunities
  • Honing skills through unconducted performance
  • CSYCO repertoire
  • Structure and purpose of the performance class component

Register now


  • Ages 14–19 in 2022
  • Minimum instrument level of AMEB Grade 7 or equivalent

The first intake will be open to string players (violin, viola, cello and double bass). Expressions of interest for other instruments are welcome via and will be considered as the CSO reviews the pilot program in 2022.


Due to the ACT COVID-19 lockdown, applications have been extended and auditions deferred. Dates in red are updated to reflect this revised schedule. 

04 Aug 2021
Audition excerpts made available (on this webpage)

22 Sep 2021
Zoom Q&A session with Kirsten Williams and Lindy Reksten

30 Sep 2021
Applications close for the 2022 program

24 Oct 2021 **3pm via Zoom**
Free audition preparation workshop with Kirsten Williams, CSO Concertmaster

29 Nov 2021 **time / venue TBC**
Live auditions

If live auditions are not possible due to COVID-29 restrictions, candidates will be required to submit video auditions by 3 December 2021.


To apply, download and complete the application form and email to by COB Thursday 30 September 2021 with any relevant attachments. If the form fields do not allow sufficient space for relevant application information, please attach additional pages as necessary.

Application form [PDF 1MB]


To audition for CSYCO, applicants will be required to present:

  • two orchestral excerpts

Excerpts: violin [PDF 485KB]
Excerpts: viola [PDF 358KB]
Excerpts: cello [PDF 313KB]
Excerpts: double bass [PDF 298KB]

  • one ‘own choice’ piece that demonstrates the candidate’s instrumental ability

Auditions will also comprise sight reading and a short interview. If video auditions are required due to COVID-19 restrictions, a preparation piece will be required in lieu of sight reading (made available on 26 November) and an interview will be arranged via Zoom.


CSYCO rehearsals will run weekly (1.5 hours) during the 2022 school terms followed by a short performance class (30m). Students must regularly attend rehearsals and participate in at least three performance classes per semester.

Term 1, 2022: 14 February – 1 April

Term 2, 2022: 2 May – 17 June

Term 3, 2022: 18 July – 9 September

Term 4, 2022: 10 October – 18 November

Rehearsals: Tuesdays 5.30pm – 7pm, ANU School of Music
Regular attendance required

Performance class: Tuesdays 7pm – 7.30pm, ANU School of Music
Students will be expected to play in at least one performance class per semester and attend a further two classes as an audience member.

CSYCO will present four concerts in 2022, in the final week of each term.

CSYCO is an extension program designed to build on existing learning – students are expected to continue participation in school music programs.


The participation fee for 2022 is $550.
A limited number of scholarship places will be offered to students facing financial barriers to participation.


For more information, please contact the CSO via