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
Auditions are closed for the 2023-2024 school year. Should you have interest in joining the ensemble for this year please reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org.
2024-2025 AUDITION DATES
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:
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
One Major Scale in 2 Octaves
One Major Scale in 1 Octave
One Chromatic Scale in 2 Octaves
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.
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 is a public school and private studio instrumental music teacher, performer, conductor, clinician, and author. Ms. Althen is in her twenty-first 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, Concert Band, Jazz Lab, 50+ student Brazilian Percussion Ensemble, 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 seventy 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 and audition sets carefully aligned with state-specific criteria at six different levels of difficulty. The series is 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 held the position of General Manager of the Syracuse Youth Orchestras from the Fall of 2014 through the program’s finale performance at Carnegie Hall in June of 2017. Ms. Althen is the co-director and founder of the newly formed Syracuse Youth Wind Symphony.
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 is in his eighteenth 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.
(alphabetical by Composer)
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
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.
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.