A wide shot of ASTRO performing onstage during a concert. Their conductor stands before them with her arms raised.

Lawrence Community Youth String Orchestra (LYSO) (Grades 5-8, auditioned)


Janet Bond Sutter, teacher-conductor
Ann Hada, manager

Shattuck Hall 163, Lawrence Conservatory of Music / online via Zoom
Rehearsals: Sundays, 3:15–4:30 p.m.
September 20–November 22
Spring semester TBD.

The Lawrence Community Youth String Orchestra (LYSO)—formerly the Academy String Orchestra (ASTRO)—is for students in grades 5-8 who wish to begin to perform orchestral music. Emphases include the development of reading and ensemble skills. LYSO's schedule includes weekly rehearsals (two 10-week semesters) and a performance in November and March. LYSO is the preparatory orchestra for the Fox Valley Symphony Youth Orchestra program; administrators and teacher-conductors in each organization work together to ensure the highest quality opportunities for students in the Fox Valley region.

As a general rule, students spend a minimum of two years in LYSO before moving to the Fox Valley Symphony's Philharmonia Orchestra.  This is particularly true for students whose schools teach strings in small group lesson formats rather than in full orchestral settings and for students in grades 5 or 6.

Students registered for Community Music School ensembles are also expected to participate in a curricular (during the school day, for credit) performing musical ensemble when available; LYSO should not substitute for curricular music programs.

2020-21 Season

This year, LYSO students will be divided into two cohorts. Each cohort will be invited to in-person rehearsals every other week and given a link to connect online via Zoom, a platform that allows for computerized or telephonic connection, on alternate weeks. (If a family prefers to participate fully online via Zoom, that is an option.) Lawrence University has determined that up to 35 people can safely be in our rehearsal room given its dimensions and air filtering system; we will have fewer than 20 each week.

Everyone in the rehearsal room will be required to wear masks and remain six feet apart. The exterior classroom door will be used for entrances and exits and parents will be required to wait outside the Conservatory. The semester will culminate in a recording project in which individual student audio recordings are mixed to form a virtual orchestral performance.

Auditions and Registration

Audition requests are open for the 2020-21 season. There is no cost to audition. Click the button below to request an audition. Click here to view the audition requirements.

Request an Audition

Returning LYSO students need not register for an audition and may register for the 2020-21 season by clicking the button below.

Register (Current Students Only)

Tuition assistance is available to families who demonstrate financial need.


Policies and Materials

Registration in a Community Music School program indicates your understanding and acceptance of our guidelines. In addition to the our guidelines, please click through the subjects below to read about LYSO-specific policies and required materials.

Electronics Policy
Cell phones, iPods, electronic readers, and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited during ensemble rehearsals and backstage during concerts. If a family emergency takes place during a rehearsal or concert, please contact the ensemble manager.
Orchestra Materials
  • Students should bring their music folder and a pencil to all rehearsals.
  • All folders and music are the property of the Lawrence Community Music School and should be returned at the end of each semester or when the student leaves the ensemble.
  • Students new to the program will receive a tote bag that becomes theirs.
    • Additional or replacement bags can be purchased through the Community Music School at the cost of $8 plus tax.
  • Violinists, please have an extra E string in your case.
  • Cellists/bassists, please have a rock stop.
Concert Attire
  • Students should wear a white shirt (elbow-length or longer) with black or dark bottoms; no jeans, tennis shoes, or excessive jewlery.
  • If a student wishes to wear a skirt, the skirt should be knee-length or longer when seated and non-patterned.
  • Students may wear ties.


Four photos: a closeup of a violinist smiling and playing, viola and violin players plucking their instruments during a concert, two bassists leaning on their instruments and smiling for the camera,  two cellist playa during a concert