Great Falls Youth Orchestra programs

As an educational program of the Great Falls Symphony Association, Youth Orchestra and Sinfonia provide its members with access to the Symphony's artistic resources including the music director and conductor of the Great Falls Symphony, Grant Harville. The members of the Cascade Quartet and Chinook Winds, the Symphony's resident ensembles, are used as coaches for sectionals as well as private teachers for many students. In addition,  all members receive student tickets to attend performances to the Great Falls Symphony's "Classic Series"  and "Chamber Music Series" concerts.
Great Falls Youth Orchestra

Established in 1997, the Great Falls Symphony’s regional Youth Orchestra brings talented student musicians together to learn life skills, build strong relationships and create a beautiful musical product. While rehearsing and performing great works in the standard orchestral repertoire, students learn discipline, dedication, responsibility and teamwork. They build strong relationships with peers and the Great Falls Symphony faculty and staff, and learn to strive for excellence in all aspects of life. Having hosted residencies by renowned artists including Midori and Grammy-nominated composer Philip Aaberg, the program offers high quality artistic experiences to students from throughout northcentral Montana. 

The Youth Orchestra includes over 65 students from six different communities, eight public and private schools, as well as home school students. The orchestra rehearses each Sunday on stage in the beautiful Civic Center Mansfield Theater under the direction of conductor Grant Harville.

Great Falls Sinfonia

The Great Falls Sinfonia was established in 2013 to expand upon the youth orchestra program. This strings-only group features intermediate string students from Central Montana that are accepted through a live audition. As a smaller ensemble, Sinfonia students gain a better understanding of responsibility and leadership. 

Like Youth Orchestra, Sinfonia students come together from different communities in the region and have the opportunity to meet and work with like-minded peers that share a love for music.

Sinfonia rehearses on Sunday afternoons in the Civic Center Mansfield Theater under the direction of Sarah Schaeffer.


Youth Orchestra & Sinfonia

Grant Harville, Music Director
Sarah Schaeffer, Sinfonia Director
Angela Costley, Education Programs Manager

The mission of the Great Falls Symphony Association's Youth Orchestra is to cultivate the value of excellence and a spirit of cooperation in young musicians through the pursuit of music education and artistic achievement.

Committed to the principles of access and comprehensive inclusiveness, the GFYO is dedicated to equipping young musicians of all demographics with opportunities to develop confidence, discernment, teamwork and leadership skills necessary for success in their future endeavors. By using music as a medium, strong friendships with like-minded students are built throughout North Central Montana.

Music plays a powerful role in promoting academic excellence and developing discipline. These were motivating factors in the Great Falls Symphony Association’s decision to establish a Youth Orchestra program in 1997. The Great Falls Youth Orchestra Program now serves an average of 100 young musicians each year ages 12 to 19 years from numerous local public, private and home schools, as well as schools in communities outside Great Falls, and as far away as Helena and Lewistown.

The Program currently offers two ensembles: the Youth Orchestra, a symphonic ensemble with strings, winds, and percussion; and the intermediate Sinfonia, a strings-only orchestra.

Auditions are held three times a year: September, December, and April.


Youth Chamber Music Program

a small-ensemble music program for middle and high school students, coached by principal players of the Great Falls Symphony

The Great Falls Symphony’s Youth Chamber Music Program (YCMP) gives  young musicians an opportunity to participate small ensemble playing with professional coaching and experience the joy and education chamber music can provide.  A natural extension of our Youth Orchestra and Sinfonia programs, the Youth Chamber Music Program includes weekly coaching with our highly trained core musicians and performance opportunities with their chamber ensemble two times per year at the Mansfield Theater. Additional community performance opportunities may be available throughout the school year.

cham·ber mu·sic

ˈCHāmbər ˌmyo͞ozik/


  1. Instrumental music played by a small ensemble, with one player to a part. Because of its intimate nature, chamber music has been described as the music of friends.

A program for all Great Falls Music Students

The program is open to all music students with two years playing experience and your placement in an ensemble will be based on your age, playing ability and the availability of an appropriate group in which to be placed.


All orchestra instruments welcome! Membership in the Great Falls Youth Orchestra or Sinfonia is not required for YCMP participation. However Great Falls Youth Orchestra and Sinfonia students receive a discount on YCMP tuition.


Ensemble Coaches

The coaches are principal members of the Great Falls Symphony and rehearsals take place on Sundays between 1:00 and 5:00 PM from September – November for our fall semester and January – March for our spring semester.


Email Angela Costley, Education Programs Manager or call her at (406) 453-4102.

Tuition Rates per semester
Sinfonia and Youth orchestra members:
$50.00 per semester
Non Members:
$75.00 per semester

Application and placement

Fill out a Youth Chamber Music Application application online. The YCMP Coordinator, Angela Costley, will contact applicants confirming your application. Students are placed in a group based on instrumentation, age, playing experience, and scheduling availability. 

What is chamber music?!?