The Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra is among the oldest orchestras of its kind in California and has performed in Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, and toured in Germany, the Czech Republic, China, and most recently Salzburg, Vienna and Budapest. Members typically have more performing opportunities than students in the Debut and Aspirante Orchestras and must be committed to a strict routine of rehearsals, private lessons and at-home practice. Music performed is from the standard symphonic orchestral repertoire. Members are typically ages 14-23.
Formed in October 1959, as the Sonoma County Junior Symphony, under the direction of founding conductor Eugene Shepherd, the orchestra's name was changed, in 1994, to the Santa Rosa Symphony Youth Orchestra and is currently led by Bobby Rogers, previously Conductor of the Aspirante Youth Orchestra since 2011. A graduate of Sonoma State University (B.A. in Music Education and Jazz Performance) and Sacramento State University (M.A. in Wind Conducting), he has earned many top awards and honors for outstanding teaching. Rogers is currently the Music Director at Pioneer High School in Woodland, Director of Jazz Program at Solano Community College, adjunct Professor of Band at Woodland Community College and Artistic Director of the Yolo Community Band. He serves on the California Teachers Association State Council of Education.
The Youth Orchestra has helped prepare musicians who have pursued a professional music career with numerous professional ensembles throughout California, including the Santa Rosa Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Orchestra, American Bach Soloists, Oakland Symphony, Musica Angelica, Sacramento Symphony and Napa Valley Symphony.