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About Us


The Saratoga Youth Symphony was founded in 2012 by two dedicated musicians in New York’s Capital Region: Sue Nazzaro and Ellen Madison. The symphony orchestra was founded on the belief that great music should be available to all students and that the musicians of the orchestra should be able to share their love for music with each other, and within the community.


Under the leadership of Music Director Joshua Thompson, the SYS provides an orchestral experience for talented student musicians ages 18 and under. Members of the Youth Symphony, Preparatory Symphony and Wind Symphony represent more than two dozen schools throughout the Capital District. The SYS continues to build upon its reputation for musical excellence while maintaining its commitment to music education and community activities.


Admission to the Youth Symphony, Preparatory Symphony or Wind Symphony is by annual auditions which are held in May or June.

























Joshua Thompson, Music Director  

The Saratoga Youth Symphony's Music Director is Joshua Thompson. Mr. Thompson is on the faculty at the University of Vermont and Castleton University. At the University of Vermont, he teaches horn. At Castleton, he is the director of the wind ensemble, chamber ensembles, he teaches horn, conducting and brass methods. Mr. Thompson completed undergraduate study in music education from the College of Saint Rose and graduate and post-graduate study at the Hartt School in performance. Mr. Thompson maintains a busy performance schedule across the Northeastern United States performing with several organizations, including: Albany Pro Musica, Berkshire Symphony, Burlington Chamber Orchestra, Burlington Choral Society, Hubbard Hall Opera Theater, Park Playhouse and Schenectady Symphony. He is the 2011 winner of the solo competition at the Northeast Horn Workshop and has recorded with Johnny Vic and Naxos. He has guest conducted for several All-County festivals in New York State and at the Castleton Honors Festival. Joshua brings to the SYS his passion and commitment for making music with young musicians; to inspire and enrich their understanding and joy for music.


Sue Nazzaro, SYS Co-founder and Executive Director

Sue Nazzaro is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a degree in Viola Performance.  After many years of orchestral playing (including the St. Cecilia Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia and Albany Symphony), she settled in Saratoga Springs to focus more on teaching and education.  Sue has run a private studio for 30 years.  She is also the proprietor of a bow shop where she re-hairs and repairs bows.

Ellen Madison, SYS Co-founder and Administrator


Ellen Madison is a native of Niskayuna. She studied Violin at the New England Conservatory of Music, SUNY Purchase, and New York University. Ms. Madison holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Violin Performance.  She teaches and coaches many capital region violinists and teaches internationally at the Cayman Islands Arts Festival. Ms. Madison has worked at the prestigious Colbert Artist Management in New York City and has served on the Board of Directors of local Youth Orchestras. With her strong background in music and in Arts management, Ms. Madison coordinates all of the administrative details for the SYS. 

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