About the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra

Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated inspiring and cultivating excellence in youth through music education, ensemble building, and performance opportunities.

It was founded as a single orchestra, the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, 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. Over the years, the program has grown to serve over 450 talented young musicians, performing in two full orchestras, three string orchestras, a wind ensemble, a flute choir and a jazz combo and a jazz orchestra as a part of GDYO Jazz. 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 Winds, the Dallas Opera and multiple other local music ensembles.

History of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra


  • Founded 1972, one orchestra, 35 musicians


  • Richard Giangiulio named Music Director 1980
  • Growth to three orchestras:
    1. The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra
    2. The Dallas Junior Symphony
    3. 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 during 2011-12, total enrollment 440
  • SEVENTH TOUR, Germany & Czech Republic, June 2012
  • WIND SYMPHONY featured at the 2013 Texas Bandmasters Association Convention in San Antonio, TX
  • FLUTE CHOIR performs at the 2013 National Flute Association Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • GDYO adds the Jazz Institute to its program offerings, starting in the fall of 2014
  • EIGHTH TOUR, China, June 2015
  •  GDYO welcomes new Executive Director Cathy Hernandez (also an alumna of the program, 1990)
  • GDYO Community Engagement Partnership with DISD is launched.
  • GDYO Institute reformed as GDYO Jazz, with Kris Berg named as Director.
  • 2018 GDYO now serving over 465 students plus approximately 2,000 under-served Dallas youths through outreach initiatives.