Thank you for your interest in the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra. We are one of the few musical organizations in the United States that specializes in chamber  orchestra and chamber music training. Unlike most symphonic youth groups, the size of PACO’s orchestras is closely regulated, with the average number of members being only around 25 students. Our five-orchestra training program is strictly for string players, grades 3 through 12. Local guest wind and percussion musicians lend their help with the upper three orchestras, so we can present a highly versatile season of programming.

We hold formal auditions for new members once a year on April 10th, 2016 (backup day April 16th, 2016). Informal auditions can occur throughout the year if a position becomes available.

Registration Form

Auditions & Placement for New Members

Entrance to PACO is by audition only; advancement is based on a complex set of criteria that includes musicality, technical ability, social maturity, and general attitude. Getting the most from your PACO experience requires a considerable investment of time and energy; for this reason, simultaneous membership in other youth orchestras is strongly discouraged. PACO does strongly support each member’s participation in their school’s music program.

PACO has a relatively small number of openings in its orchestras each year. Every effort is made to place each musician in the orchestra appropriate to his/her level of ability and experience. Due to the orchestras’ intimate size, importance is placed on the student’s social maturity and the ability to interact well in addition to his/her musical ability. When all considerations are equal, continuing members are given priority over new members.

Most young players join PACO at the SuperStrings level and stay in PACO through high school, advancing through Prep, Debut, Sinfonia, and finally Senior PACO.  Openings at all levels do occur, and more experienced players are encouraged to audition for placement into our “Top 3” orchestras. Attendance at PACO’s annual Chamber Music Workshop in August is required of new members joining PACO as members of the Top 3 levels.

Basic Requirements
  • All musicians need to be taking private lessons on their orchestral instrument
  • Family participation and support are required of every PACO member
New Members
For acceptance into the SuperStrings or Preparatory level, we look for many qualities, including:
  • a positive attitude
  • good intonation and vibrato
  • facility to 3rd position on violin/viola and 4th position on cello
  • familiarity with several major and minor keys (up to 3 sharps – A MAJOR/f-sharp minor – and 3 flats – E-flat Major/c minor and for Prep level with tenor clef for cello).
  • some sight-reading experience
  • some exposure to ensemble or orchestral playing is helpful, but not required.

We will ask for one 2 or 3 octave scale (your choice) and one prepared piece at the audition in April.

More experienced musicians are welcome to audition for Debut Ensemble, Sinfonia, and Senior PACO. Attendance at PACO’s annual Chamber Music Workshop in August is required of new members joining PACO at these levels.

We strongly suggest that you arrange to attend one of our concerts in order to familiarize yourself with our current string playing levels. Please refer to our web site for times and locations. You may also arrange to attend an orchestra rehearsal in order to become more familiar with our program by calling the PACO office at (650) 856-3848.

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