What Is the Springfield Youth Symphony?

Springfield Public Schools sponsors an honors youth orchestra program with three different orchestras which span all the grades in which SPS offers orchestra as a course: the Springfield Youth String Orchestra (SYSO), the Springfield Junior Youth Symphony (SJYS), and the Springfield Youth Symphony (SYS).  Descriptions, membership requirements, and directors of each orchestra are listed below.

The mission of each of the honors orchestras is to provide an age-appropriate, honorary, and supplementary orchestra for advanced players of orchestral instruments.

The orchestras are structured according to grades and ages of the students.  The orchestras are honorary because a successful audition is required for membership.  The literature performed by each orchestra is supplementary to the regular SPS orchestra curriculum because the level of difficulty and required advanced playing skills exceed those of normal grade-appropriate literature.

Sponsored by the Springfield Public Schools, the Springfield Youth Symphony consists of 65 of the area’s finest young musicians. Membership is by audition and is open to both Springfield Public School students as well as other highly qualified musicians from the surrounding area. During its history the Orchestra has been recognized with numerous honors, including invitations to perform at the International Youth Orchestra Festival in Banff, Canada (1996, 1999), the Midwest International Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago (2000, 2005), the Missouri Music Educators Conference (2002), and the Festival of the States Concert Series in Washington DC (2010). The Springfield Youth Symphony made its Carnegie Hall debut in June, 2007.

Friends of SYS, Inc.

Friends of the Springfield Youth Symphony, Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization for the Springfield Youth Symphony. It exists to provide moral support, enthusiasm, social interaction, fund raising assistance, and an idea resource. The organization primarily consists of the players’ parents, but any and all are encouraged to be a part of this vitally important organization. The current president of the Friends is Sonja Jones. The First Vice-President is Beth Peters, Second Vice-President is Deborah Cox-Hulgus,  Treasurer is Jill Raney, Secretary is Sharon Latta, and Historian is currently vacant.

Friends of the Springfield Youth Symphony meet on the 2nd Mondays of each month. Meetings for the remainder of the 2016-2017 year are as follows:

Monday evening, January 9:   6:30 p.m-7:30 p.m. in the Glendale Commons Area

Monday evening, February 13:  6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m in the Glendale Commons Area

Monday evening, March 6: 30 p.m-7:30 p.m. in the Glendale Commons Area

Monday evening, April 10:  6:30-7:30 p.m.  in the Glendale Commons Area

Meet the Conductor



Andy Johnston directs the Springfield Youth Symphony, the Glendale High School Orchestras, and four different elementary school orchestras.  This is his twenty-eighth year teaching strings, his twenty-first teaching in public schools, and his sixteenth in Springfield.  Mr. Johnston graduated from Oklahoma State University, where he majored in both music education and violin performance.  He holds a Master of Music degree in viola performance from Missouri State University, and he has done additional graduate work at Texas Tech University.  During his tenure in Springfield, Mr. J has been the Assistant Conductor of the Springfield Youth Symphony from 1998-2001, the Conductor of the Springfield Jr. Youth Symphony from 2001-2006, and instructor of viola at Missouri State University in 2007.  In addition to teaching and conducting, Mr. J is active as a professional violist and violinist.  He is a member of the American String Teachers Association, where he currently serves on the State Board of Directors; and he is a member of the Missouri Music Educators Association, where he served as vice-president from 2006 to 2008.  Before coming to Springfield in 1997, Mr. J taught in the Enid, Oklahoma Public Schools and served as concertmaster of the Enid Symphony Orchestra.  He enjoys spending time with his wife Elizabeth, who teaches orchestra at Pershing Middle School and plays violin professionally, and their children Allison (violinist) and Benjamin (cellist).  Mr. J enjoys an eclectic array of hobbies and interests, especially cooking, caving (cave exploration), memorizing the number pi (a totally useless pastime), and pulling out in front of high school students and driving the speed limit. 


Carla Wooton is the Assistant Conductor of Springfield Youth Symphony. Carla received her Bachelors Degree in K-12 vocal/instrumental music from SMSU and her Masters in Orchestral Conducting from MSU. She has taught for 25 years, the last 15 years  being in the Springfield, Missouri school district at Pleasant View Middle School. She has been the assistant conductor of Springfield Youth Symphony since 2006.

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