The Huntsville Youth Orchestra (HYO) nurtures the musical, social and educational development of young musicians from the Tennessee Valley in an orchestral setting. The programs instill cooperation, discipline and patience, developing young musicians into appreciative listeners and participants. The HYO was begun in 1961 by Russell Gerhart, founding conductor of the Huntsville Symphony, to provide a quality musical experience and pre-professional training through the performances of great symphonic literature.
HYO has a total of seven ensembles, three orchestras for auditioned students and four smaller groups for novice to intermediate level strings, and has students from elementary to high school aged youth; the Huntsville Youth Symphony also has college aged students.
Under the direction of five conductors, the orchestras of the Huntsville Youth Orchestra perform in a variety of settings, which include scheduled fall, winter and spring concerts, as well as holiday and special performances. Concerts are varied and are generally free. Some feature HYO students only, others feature collaborations with other arts organizations, others include professional musicians joining the students.