The Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony (SYWS) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit founded in September of 2023. The SYWS's mission is to provide an inspiring musical home to the most exceptional high school woodwind, brass, and percussion student-musicians from across Central New York. Musicians will perform a transformative and diverse repertoire of Wind Band music within an ensemble culture that embodies and celebrates connection, collaboration, belonging, musician-leadership, joy, and excellence in music-making. The SYWS seeks to augment, support, and serve our musicians’ outstanding school music education programs with its presence and outreach. The SYWS will be conducted and directed by Ms. Erin Althen, Band Director at Westhill High School, and Mr. Greg Borsz, Band Director at West Genesee High School.

The Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony:

· will provide deep and meaningful musical and life experiences through participation in an ensemble where students may connect with one another, express their being through music-making, and develop their musical identity.

· will perform concerts throughout Central New York featuring masterworks and contemporary pieces with a focus on programming music that is diverse, inclusive, and that amplifies underrepresented voices through our music-making.

· will offer chamber music opportunities, sectional coaching, and interaction with the finest music pedagogues in Central New York.

· will prepare students for a lifetime of music-making and musical appreciation.


TThe Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony, conducted by Erin Althen and Greg Borsz

Winds, Brass, String Bass, Percussion, Piano (Level V-VI, advanced Level IV)

Auditions are closed for the 2023-2024 school year. Should you have interest in joining the ensemble for this year please reach out via syracuseyouthwindsymphony@gmail.com.


To be announced

Syracuse, NY – Westhill High School Music Wing

AUDITION REQUIREMENTS for Woodwinds, Brass, String Bass, Percussion, Piano

  • School Grades 9 and older in the Fall, NYSSMA Level 4+, 5, 6
  • Students must be enrolled in their school instrumental music program, if such a program exists
  • Each Woodwind, Brass, String Bass, Piano musician will prepare:
    • Scales:
      • Woodwinds and Brass:
        • One Major Scale in 2 Octaves
        • One Major Scale in 1 Octave
        • Chromatic Scale: Ascending chromatic scale of performer’s choice to demonstrate the performer’s full range
      • String Bass:
        • One Major Scale in 2 Octaves
        • One Major Scale in 1 Octave
        • One Chromatic Scale in 2 Octaves
      • Piano:
        • Two Major Scales in 3 Octaves, two hands in parallel motion
        • One Chromatic Scale in 2 Octaves
    • Solo excerpts: Two contrasting NYSSMA Level 5 or 6 solo excerpts (or advanced Level 4), each at least one and a half minutes (solos do not have to be in the NYSSMA manual, but must represent Level 5/Level 6/advanced Level 4 repertoire)
  • Each Percussionist may opt to audition in one, two, or three areas to include snare, mallets, and/or timpani. If a percussionist auditions in one area, they will perform two excerpts in that concentration, if they audition in multiple areas, they will perform one excerpt per concentration:
    • Rudiments, Scales, Tuning:
      • Snare: Long Roll (open-closed-open)
      • Mallets: one major scale in 2 octaves with arpeggios, one octave major scale ascending double stops
      • Timpani: Tuning to given pitches

Auditions will last ten minutes

Those students who play utility instruments and would like to play those instruments for their audition have the opportunity to indicate interest on the audition form - these instruments include, but are not limited to: Piccolo, English Horn, Eb Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Contrabassoon.

We will look to have a pianist on the SYWS musician roster. This musician may join the ensemble on piano only, or on another auditioned instrument (wind, brass, percussion) AND piano.

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Rehearsals & Performances

The Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony will rehearse weekly, from November - May each year, on Sundays from 6:45-8:30pm. The ensemble will begin in November to support inclusion of students who participate in competitive Marching Band during September and October. Rehearsals will take place at Westhill High School in Syracuse, New York. The SYWS will perform two to three concert cycles each year featuring masterworks, contemporary Wind Band pieces, and other cornerstones of the pre-professional and professional repertoire.

Rehearsal and Performance Calendar


5, 12, 19


3, 10, 17


7, 14, 21 (Concert), 28


4, 11**, 25 (**Feb 11 rehearsal will take place earlier in the day)


3, 10, 17 (Concert), 24


7, 14, 28


5, 12 (Concert)

Erin Althen

Erin Althen is a public school and private studio instrumental music teacher, performer, conductor, clinician, ​and author. Ms. Althen is in her twenty-second year teaching in the Westhill Central School District in ​Syracuse, New York, where she serves as the Westhill High School Director of Bands, Chair of the Fine Arts ​Department, and conducts the WHS Wind Ensemble, Jazz Lab, Percussion Ensemble, Pit Band, and Pep ​Band, advises the Tri-M National Honor Society for music, and coaches chamber music ensembles. Ms. ​Althen’s ensembles have traveled often, including acclaimed performances throughout New York State and ​in Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Orlando, Boston, Baltimore, New York City, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Her ​students regularly perform in local and state honor bands and orchestras, and more than eighty of Ms. ​Althen’s students have performed in collegiate instrumental music ensembles. Ms. Althen is active as a ​clinician and guest conductor and has conducted honor ensembles and presented clinics to music ​educators at County, All-State, State, and National conferences.

Ms. Althen is co-author of “The Sight Reading Book,” a series of 21 sight-reading books carefully aligned ​with state-specific criteria at six different levels of difficulty used extensively in schools and studios ​throughout the northeast and eastern seaboard. Ms. Althen maintains a private flute studio and has ​performed as principal flute with the Syracuse Summer Festival Orchestra and piccoloist with the Central ​Winds: Music Educators’ Wind Ensemble; she served both ensembles for years as Personnel Manager. Ms. ​Althen is co-founder of the Central New York Music Teacher Mentoring Program and the founder and co-​conductor of the Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony.

Ms. Althen is a proud recipient of the New York State Band Directors Association (NYSBDA) Outstanding ​Band Director Award, National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Music Association New York State ​Outstanding Music Educator Award, and the Westhill Staff Recognition Award and Yearbook Dedication. ​Ms. Althen holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music Education with Performance Honors in Flute from ​Syracuse University’s Setnor School of Music, and is a graduate of the Farmington Public Schools, in ​Farmington, Connecticut.

Greg Borsz

Greg Borsz is in his nineteenth year as a music teacher in the West Genesee Central School District. Mr. ​Borsz is the Director of the West Genesee High School Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and Jazz Ensemble, ​and teaches brass lessons at the High School and Camillus Middle School. He is also the Assistant Director ​of the 34-time New York State Field Band Conference Champion Wildcat Marching Band. Mr. Borsz has ​previously served West Genesee as the High School Symphonic Band Director and West Genesee Middle ​School Jazz Band Director.

Prior to Mr. Borsz’s time in the West Genesee School District, he spent six years as the Band Director at ​Corning-Painted Post East High School. Mr. Borsz is active as a trombonist and has performed with the ​Utica Symphony, Southern Tier Symphony, Central Winds Music Educators’ Wind Ensemble, Central Winds ​Jazz Ensemble, Pinnacle Brass, SYTRUS Brass, and the Sam Pallet Band. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in ​Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and a Master’s degree in Music ​Education from Ithaca College.

Erin Althen

Greg Borsz


(alphabetical by Composer)


Series 3: Concert May 12, 2024

Beyond the Horizon - Rossano Galante

Until the Scars - John Mackey

Jazz Suite, Waltz No. 2 - Dmitri Shostakovich

Washington Post March - John Philip Sousa

English Folk Song Suite - Ralph Vaughan Williams

In Two Places - Haley Woodrow

Series 2: Concert March 17, 2024

On Parade: Quick March - Amanda C. E. Aldridge, ed. Kaitlin Bove

The Rakes of Mallow - Leroy Anderson

Midnight on Main Street - Brian Balmages

Halcyon Hearts - Katahj Copley

Three Irish Dances - James Curnow

Of Endless Miles and Empty Rafts - Michele Fernández

Pablo! - Richard Meyer

Series 1: Concert January 21, 2024

Americans We - Henry Fillmore

Cry of the Last Unicorn - Rossano Galante

Symphony No. 1 Culloden (Mvts I, II) - Julie Giroux

Irish Tune from County Derry and Shepherd's Hey - Percy Grainger

Rhapsodic Celebration - Robert Sheldon

Havana Nights - Randall Standridge

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Work Study Tuition Assistance Program

It is the aim of the SYWS to provide all students who have auditioned for and been accepted to the SYWS the opportunity to perform despite any financial challenges or hardships that may exist. To achieve this goal, we offer the following Leadership Team positions:

(Full and Half Tuition Available) Librarians and Administrative Assistants - Organize SYWS library, help prep and collect music for each concert cycle, assist with administration of the ensembles. Summer and early-school year work may be involved. More work as the concert cycles start and end.

(Full Tuition) Stage Managers and Crew - Arrive at rehearsals early to set up and stay late to tear down. Leave the school/performance venue in the same condition (or better!) each rehearsal. Assist conductors and SYWS manager as needed at rehearsals/performances.

(Full Tuition) Percussion Manager - Arrive at rehearsals early to set up and stay late to tear down and manage the percussion needs of the ensemble. Leave the school’s percussion section/room in the same condition (or better!) each rehearsal.

We are looking for independent, hard working, punctual and present leaders who are in need of financial tuition assistance and who desire to lead within the ensemble by fulfilling the requirements of these positions. SYWS students, once accepted, receive information about the Work Study program and application.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where are rehearsals located?

Rehearsals will take place at Westhill High School in Syracuse.

How much is tuition for the Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony?

Tuition is $375 per student for the 2023-2024 school year. Work Study scholarships are available for interested student-musicians (please see the Work Study Program page).

Who may participate in the SYWS and do musicians have to perform in their school ensembles?

The SYWS auditions are open to all interested grade 9-12 level 5-6 Woodwind, Brass, String Bass, Piano, and Percussion students from across CNY. Students may attend public schools, private schools, or homeschool. There is an expectation that our musicians participate in their school major ensembles (Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Symphonic Band for our Woodwind/Brass/Percussion; Orchestra for our String Basses) if such programs exist.

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The Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony (SYWS) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit.

Should you have interest in donating to support the SYWS, please reach out!