Junior Orchestra in Kansas City

Our History

Hear the future now

Hear the future now

“On the night of April, 19, 1958, at a meeting extending into the small hours of April 20th, our Youth Symphony was born.”

– the opening of a synopsis of the Youth Symphony’s history written by Ruth Cady Austin in 1963

Our History

Our Beginnings

The Youth Symphony of Kansas City was founded as “The Youth Symphony of the Heart of America” by conductor Leo Scheer in 1958. The organization initially consisted of one orchestra of 80 musicians. Incorporated on July 31, 1958, the organization has endured a long and interesting history as the musical home to young musicians in the Kansas City metro area.

The first concert was held on September 6, 1958 at which time Mayor H. Roe Bartle proclaimed the week as “Youth Symphony Week”.

In 1959, Conductor Scheer resigned and was replaced by Richard Cormier, a member of the then-Kansas City Philharmonic (now Kansas City Symphony) and faculty member at Park College (now University). In 1964, the organization added a younger junior orchestra in Kansas City known as the “Junior Youth Symphony” due to increased demand.

Our Mission

The mission of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City is to challenge, educate and inspire students through meaningful and enriching musical experiences.

Our Vision

Our vision is to be the premier music program of choice for dedicated students in the region, creating unique and transformative opportunities, resulting in a lifelong passion for music. Tenets of our core values include Education, Excellence, Opportunity, and Relevance.

Our Goals

Filling a Void

YSKC is the only high-functioning junior orchestra project of its kind in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area. While many schools offer music programs, most do not provide a full orchestra experience at multiple grade and ability levels. Students regularly convey that their experience with YSKC has directly enhanced their overall musicianship skills. Our junior orchestra in Kansas City provides experiences that positively impact homeschool music programs and foster positive relationships with our enrolled students and their peers.

Distinctive Performances

Students perform distinctive concerts throughout Kansas City in formal and informal settings at venues such as Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College. We set the standard for junior orchestras around the Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond.


Student participants and their families get inside access to the arts in Kansas City and routinely receive offers for discounted tickets to concerts and additional experiences from community partners. Area arts organizations recognize the value in engaging with YSKC, as our students are the future audience members, patrons and performers essential to long-term sustainability of the arts.


Due to funding, among other variables, many of the school music programs within underserved communities are minimal or non-existent thereby highlighting a need for afterschool music enrichment programs such as YSKC. Our goal is to practice inclusivity by addressing music program access and financial need within underserved schools.

YSKC Staff

The members of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City Board, Artistic, Administrative, and Development staff work tirelessly together in pursuit of YSKC’s mission to challenge, educate and inspire students through meaningful and enriching musical experiences.

Meet our Team

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Support YSKC

Interested in supporting Youth Symphony of Kansas City?

A contribution to YSKC supports the young and growing musicians of the future. Donate to us directly, or contact us for specific inquiries.