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 and Preparatory 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 Saratoga Youth Symphony and Preparatory Symphony is by annual auditions which are held in May or June.

























Joshua Thompson, Music Director  

The Saratoga Youth Symphony is pleased to announce the appointment of Joshua Thompson as the Music Director. 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.


Katie Gardiner, Music Director Emeritus 


Katie Gardiner was thrilled to have had the opportunity to make music with the Saratoga Youth Symphony. Currently, she has moved out of state to pursue a Doctorate degree in Music and hopes to return to the Capital Region upon completion of her degree. Ms. Gardiner was on the music faculty at Skidmore College where she held the position of  Choral Director and Lecturer in Music. Ms. Gardiner has conducted ensembles at Williams College and the University at Albany.  As a passionate music educator, Katie Gardiner has worked with students of all ages and abilities. Ms. Gardiner holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Music Education (vocal emphasis and pedagogy emphasis) from the Hartt School of Music and a Master of Music degree in choral conducting from the Eastman School of Music.  Ms. Gardiner has studied conducting with Janet McGhee, William Weinert, Simon Carrington, and Brad Lubman.  Prior to her position at Skidmore College, Ms. Gardiner conducted the Eastman Conducting Orchestra, Repertory Singers, and assisted with the Women’s Chorus. At the Eastman School of music, she has performed as a member of the acclaimed ensemble, “Voices.”   A Connecticut native, Ms. Gardiner has resided in Vermont since 2007. Over the past several years she has rapidly become one of the most prominent conductors in our community.  Ms. Gardiner says, “the goal for the Saratoga Youth Symphony is to foster artistic and personal growth through challenging repertoire and joyful music-making in the ensemble setting.  It has been such an honor for me to work with these hard-working and musical students of the Saratoga community and Capital Region.” 


Sue Nazzaro, 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, Marketing Director


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 is internationally recognized for her innovative approach to online learning, where she teaches the violin and coaches violin students on their orchestra music. Ellen Madison coordinates all of the marketing, administrative and online details for the SYS. 

© 2020 by Saratoga Youth Symphony                                                                                                                                   

  • w-facebook
  • w-youtube