Established in 1979, Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestras (SEMYO) provides a unique experience for musicians to perform in a symphony orchestra. We have over 130 students in grades 3–12 that perform in our three orchestras on string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments.

SEMYO is committed to offering a high-quality music experience for a diverse group of students in a supportive and engaging environment. Students value SEMYO for the challenging repertoire, friendships made with other musicians, and the opportunity to play in an ensemble with like-minded peers. In addition to full orchestra performance led by professional conductors, students have coaching sessions with professional musicians and teachers, opportunities to play in small ensembles, and the opportunity to compete in an annual concerto competition.


All students are required to audition every year to determine placement in one of three SEMYO ensembles. Because SEMYO offers ensembles for all levels of ability, the acceptance rate is very high. Placement in SEMYO ensemble is based on student’s level of technical ability and artistry. SEMYO is still accepting students for the 2019-2020 season. Contact Corey Henke to schedule an audition time.

Audition Sign Up and Requirements

Chamber Strings

SEMYO’s beginning string ensemble is open to string players with a minimum of one or two years of playing experience. The orchestra will cover the fundamentals of ensemble playing. Learn more.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Full orchestra experience for students of all ages on string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. String players typically need a minimum of 3-4 years experience, wind players 1-2 years experience. Literature includes arranged and original works. Learn more.

Concert Orchestra

Southeastern Minnesota’s premier student instrumental ensemble, the Concert Orchestra is a full orchestra experience for advanced students on string, woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments. Literature includes original masterworks for full symphony orchestra. Learn more.

Rehearsals and Schedule

Ensembles rehearse 2-3 hours each week on Saturday mornings in Rochester during the school year.

SEMYO is divided into three trimesters: fall, winter, and spring. Students are encouraged to participate in SEMYO for the full year. However, students may skip a trimester if it conflicts with other activities.


SEMYO ensembles perform three formal concerts per year at the end of each concert cycle before a paying audience. Concert dates for 2019-2020 include November 17, March 1, and May 10. See all of our events here.

SEMYO Ensembles also perform for special events and outreach concerts.

Participation Fees

The SEMYO season consists of three trimesters per year (Fall, Winter, and Spring). each ending in a concert. Participation fees will be due at the first rehearsal of each concert cycle – September, November, and March.

New Students Only: $25 Audition Fee

Chamber Strings: $180 per trimester
Philharmonic: $200 per trimester
Concert Orchestra: $225 per trimester

Scholarships are available based on financial need. Learn more.

Participation fees cover tuition, tours, and required activities. Additional costs for optional enrichment activities may be incurred.

The Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestras (SEMYO) seeks to be an organization that values cultural inclusivity and which offers physically and programmatically accessible environments to individuals with disabilities in rehearsals, performances or special events.

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