Mission Statement

The mission of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra is to inspire and cultivate excellence in youth through music education, ensemble building, and performance opportunities.


The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, was founded in 1972 by a group of parents, educators, and musicians who valued music education and the outcomes it could provide. The program cultivates learning and creativity, as well as social and motivational skills in around 470 talented young musicians, performing in ten ensembles. GDYO musicians socialize with a diverse group of highly talented peers from over 50 communities in the Metroplex, as well as interacting with professionals from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Opera Orchestra, the Dallas Winds and multiple other local music ensembles.


Richard and Jean Lord, along with the McCook and Tompsett families, co-founded the GDYO in the fall of 1972.

One orchestra, 35 musicians.

First conductor: Yves L’Helgoual’ch

Rehearsed at St. Mark’s School of Texas

First concerto competition: 1974-75 season.
Winner Jim Thomas, Clarinet.


Richard Giangiulio named Music Director 1980

Growth to three orchestras:

  • The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
  • The Dallas Junior Symphony
  • The Dallas String Ensemble

Membership includes 170 musicians from 68 schools, and 18 districts

Administration includes part-time Secretary, Librarian and Stage Manager

First full-time Executive Director hired

Young Performers Orchestra founded, a beginning level string ensemble for children ages 5-9

Move to first permanent home, Sammons Center for the Arts, providing office, rehearsal and recital space

First full-time Orchestra Manager/Librarian hired


Meyerson Concert Series initiated with 4 full-length formal concerts in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

John Sharp, principal cellist Chicago Symphony Orchestra, performs as Guest Soloist with the GDYO

Membership in mid 90’s includes 267 students representing 132 schools and 34 communities

Texas Boys Choir joins the GDYO on a Mother’s Day Concert at the Meyerson

FIRST TOUR, France and Switzerland, June 1994

SECOND TOUR, France June, 1996.

Dallas Symphony Music Director Andrew Litton begins annual guest conducting relationship

Fall 1997, the Fifth orchestra, the Sinfonietta, is added to the program. Enrollment grows to 335

THIRD TOUR, England and Scotland, June 1998.

Fall 1999, a sixth ensemble, The Wind Symphony is added to the program under the direction of David Kehler.

Total enrollment grows to 365.


The GDYO participates in the American Symphony Orchestra League’s National Youth Orchestra Festival.

DSO Composer-in-Residence Lowell Liebermann conducts his composition Kontrapunktus with the GDYO

FOURTH TOUR, Germany and Czech Republic, June 2001

2002 30th Anniversary Season includes guest soloists Terrence Wilson, Cho-Liang Lin, & Ko Iwasaki

GDYO accompanies Sidney Poitier and others in Dallas Center for Performing Arts Gala

Orchestras perform for Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras and Texas Bandmasters Association

Wind Symphony performs first ever Side-by-Side Concert with Dallas Wind Symphony

FIFTH TOUR, Germany, Poland & Czech Republic, June 2004

Alumnus Jun Iwasaki performs Brahms Violin Concerto in “Homecoming” Concert

SIXTH TOUR, China & Hong Kong, June 2007 with Alessio Bax piano soloist

December 2007, GDYO performs 9th annual Holiday Magic concert with Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas


Flute Choir formed, total enrollment 425


GDYO celebrates 40th Anniversary Season (11-12), total enrollment 440

SEVENTH TOUR, Germany & the Czech Republic, June 2012

Summer 2013, ensembles perform for Texas Bandmasters Association Convention and National Flute Association Convention

2014 GDYO musicians perform a side-by-side with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for DSO Family Concert Series

2014-2015 GDYO launches GDYO Jazz Institute

EIGHTH TOUR, China, June 2015

2016 GDYO welcomes new Executive Director Cathy Hernandez (also an alumna of the program, 1990)

2017 GDYO launches GDYO Community Engagement Partnership with DISD. GDYO Institute reformed as GDYO Jazz, with Kris Berg named as Director.

2018 GDYO serving over 465 students plus an additional approx. 2,000 under-served Dallas youths through outreach initiatives.

Summer 2019 Wind Ensemble tours Italy


March 2020 GDYO shuts down for the remainder of the season after the GDYO’s third concert in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2020-2021 Richard Giangiulio celebrates 40th anniversary with the GDYO.

2020-2021 GDYO responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by moving to fully online instruction featuring recording projects, masterclasses with professional conductors, composers and musicians. Moves to socially distanced rehearsals as more information about the virus becomes available and is able to livestream and record concerts in May of 2022.

Summer 2021 GDYO partners with the Dallas Independent School District to provide free summer strings camp for Dallas students.

2021-2022 GDYO Returns to in person rehearsals and concerts.

Deepens partnership with DISD offering free events to Dallas students including jam sessions and joint rehearsals.

2022-2023 GDYO launches Clarinet Choir with Dr Jun Qian serving as conductor bringing the number of ensembles to ten.