The Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony (AYWS) was founded in 1988 as the premier honor wind ensemble for high school youth in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Its purpose is to provide a positive musical experience in an artistic environment for advanced instrumentalists in wind and percussion performance. The AYWS rehearses and performs grade five and six (collegiate and professional) original wind band literature composed over a wide span of stylistic compositional periods. As an ensemble, it is one of the most visible ambassadors of culture and youth performance for Atlanta and the state of Georgia.
The AYWS typically performs four concerts annually. Additionally, the group has participated in commissioned compositions, world and regional premieres, professional music conferences, and tours. Guest composers, soloists, and conductors of national renown are regularly invited to perform with the students, including: Joseph Alessi (principal trombone, New York Philharmonic), Richard Stoltzman (international clarinet soloist and recording artist), Jeff Nelsen (horn player with the Canadian Brass and professor at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University), Susan Rider (cornet soloist, "The President's Own" United States Marine Band), Anthony Maiello (George Mason University), Mark Scatterday (Eastman School of Music), Stuart Stephenson (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), and composers Frank Ticheli, Bruce Broughton, Ron Nelson, Eric Ewazen, Jonathan Newman, Steven Bryant, John Mackey, Eric Whitacre, James Barnes, Carolyn Bremer, David Holsinger, James Barnes, Stephen Paulus, David Gillingham, Michael Daugherty, Christopher Tucker, William Pitts, and Jonathan Hoffmann.
The AYWS has appeared on Public Radio International's acclaimed radio program "From the Top" with pianist Christopher O'Riley and WABE's "Atlanta Music Scene" with Robert Hubert, and has performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles, CA), Carnegie Hall (New York, NY), Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York, NY), Severance Hall (Cleveland, OH), the Midwest Clinic (Chicago, IL), the Music Educators National Conference National Convention (Milwaukee, WI), the Georgia Music Educators Association State In-Conference (Savannah, GA), the North Carolina Music Educators Association State Conference (Winston-Salem, NC), the College Band Directors National Association/National Band Association Southern Division Conference (Atlanta, GA), and in exchange concerts with the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra Wind Symphony and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Youth Wind Ensemble.
This ensemble is comprised of approximately 85 students in grades 9-12 who share a commitment to excellence in musical performance in these areas: flute/piccolo, oboe/English horn, bassoon/contrabassoon, clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone (all), trumpet, horn, trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion, piano, string bass, and harp.
Membership since 1988 has been drawn from approximately 75 different high schools in Barrow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Houston, Oconee, Paulding, Pickens, and Rockdale counties. In addition, students have recently traveled from as far as Athens, Augusta, Rome, Warner-Robins and Birmingham to participate. The AYWS represents diversity in gender, orientation, race/ethnicity, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
The budget of the AYWS is drawn primarily from membership fees, the support of the AYWS Foundation and outside partnerships, sponsorships, grants, and donations.
The Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony is based in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia and rehearses Monday evenings during the school year from 7:30-9:30 pm, preparing for each of four concerts in approximately six rehearsal periods. Rehearsals are held at Lakeside High School and performances occur throughout the metro area.
There is a rich legacy of music-making in Atlanta, and in addition to many excellent school music programs and highly talented private instructors, the AYWS is honored to count among its colleagues these top quality youth music ensembles: