Rossen Milanov, Music Director

Next Event:

Cody Fry

July 20, 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras

Who We Are

*Repertory and Youth Orchestra Ensembles


Central Ohio’s aspiring young instrumentalists in grades 9-12 perform in this ensemble directed by Associate Conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Andrés Lopera. The 88-member orchestra has students from 19 high schools in nine counties. Members are selected through a competitive audition process held annually in May.

The ensemble rehearses on Wednesday evenings from 7-9:30pm. The annual tuition cost for Youth Orchestra is $555. Financial Aid and payment plans are available for each of our ensembles upon request.


Exciting, creative, engaging, and motivating are some of the words that describe Maestro Lopera. He is one of the current leading Latin American conductors in the United States and has performed with orchestras throughout the Americas for over a decade.

Lopera is in his 3rd season as Associate Conductor of the Columbus Symphony and Music Director of the Columbus Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has directed performances with orchestras such as the Colorado Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Toledo Symphony, New World Symphony, and Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

Andres Lopera has also appeared at summer festivals, He conducted the Inaugural season of the New England Conservatory’s Summer Orchestra Institute in 2019. Other engagements have included, the National Repertory Orchestra and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas among others. In October 2017, Lopera covered a series of concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic working alongside Gustavo Dudamel and Carlos Miguel Prieto.

At the international level, he has performed with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra and the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in his home country Colombia, among others. He has also presented concerts and collaborated with both professional and youth orchestras throughout Central and South America, including organizations in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and Honduras. In June 2012, Lopera was appointed Music Director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony in Portland, OR, where he oversaw a program with more than 450 students, 12 ensembles, and 10 conducting staff. In recognition of his contributions to Portland, he received the Portland Monthly Award, Rising Star Award, and the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber Bravo Award. Additional honors include the Orgullo Colombiano Award and Egresados Que Inspiran from EAFIT University, both received in 2017.

Lopera has studied and worked with some of the most outstanding professional artists in the field, including Hugh Wolff, Andrew Litton, David Loebel, Carlos Kalmar, Ludovic Morlot, and Marin Alsop. He earned a Master’s degree in orchestral conducting from New England Conservatory.

The essential goal of the Repertory Orchestra is to emphasize the performance of traditional orchestral literature under the leadership and coaching of professional musicians. The full, symphonic orchestra performs advanced, unabridged classical works that expand the performance capabilities of its musicians. The ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Mark Sholl and Assistant Conductor Dr. Jim Bates and is composed of students in grades 7-10.

The ensemble rehearses Tuesday evenings from 7-9:15pm, and typically performs 3-4 times a season at various locations around central Ohio. The annual tuition cost for the Repertory Orchestra is $525.

Aid and payment plans are available for each of our ensembles upon request.


Dr. Mark Sholl is the performing arts coordinator for the Hilliard City Schools. His responsibilities include overseeing the music budget and staffing for 13 elementary schools, two 6th grade schools, three middle schools and three high schools. 

Dr. Sholl is also the past president of the Ohio Orchestra and String Teachers Association. He currently serves on the board of the Hilliard Arts Council, and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra Board where he is their Education Committee Chair. Prior to his tenure as Performing Arts Coordinator with the Hilliard Schools, Dr. Sholl was the Orchestra Director at Hilliard Davidson High School for 24 years where he took the orchestras to multiple National and State Conferences – including the prestigious Midwest Clinic in Chicago, two European tours, and a tour of Canada.

Before going to Hilliard, he was the Orchestra and Assistant Band Director at Grove City High School for six years, where he won the National Sallie Mae Teaching Award. Dr. Sholl has also conducted numerous ensembles at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. In 2011, he received the Ohio Music Education Association Outstanding Music Teacher of the Year award. He has studied at The Peabody Conservatory, The University of Michigan, where he received a Bachelor of Music, and The Ohio State University from which he received his Master of Arts and PhD. 

Dr. Jim Bates is Director of Orchestral Activities at Otterbein University and since 2006 has served as an assistant conductor for the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestras. 

As a conductor and teacher, Dr. Bates is able to draw on considerable experience as an educator, performer and historian. For eighteen years he was a conductor for the Louisville (KY) Youth Orchestras and was music director of that organization from 1996 – 2001. In 1999, he joined the conducting staff of Interlochen Center for the Arts and continues to co-direct the Junior Orchestra program and Junior String Institute there in the summer. He has served as a clinician or guest conductor in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington and Colorado. He has served as president of Kentucky ASTA and as string coordinator for the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. In addition to string education he is very involved with the Classical Mandolin Society of America and period instrument performance. He was recently elected to the National Board of Directors of CMSA.

Currently, Dr. Bates is assistant conductor and principal bassist of the Westerville Symphony (OH), and is a member of The Early Interval, Columbus’ professional early music performance ensemble. He has degrees from the University of Louisville (B.M.E.), a Masters in double bass performance from Indiana University, where he studied bass with Lawrence Hurst and baroque performance with Stanley Ritchie, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Bates has two sons, Ethan and Gideon. Dr. Bates was recently appointed to chair the Coda Bows for America Community Outreach Program for ASTA.

The Chamber Strings Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Robert Gillespie, is composed of talented string players in grades 6-9. This ensemble benefits from a symbiotic relationship with The Ohio State University’s School of Music students and the middle school-age members.

Chamber Strings rehearses at The Ohio State University School of Music on Tuesday afternoons from 4:30-6:30pm. The annual tuition cost for Chamber Strings is $495. Financial Aid and payment plans are available for each of our ensembles upon request.


Robert Gillespie, professor of music, is responsible for string teacher training at The Ohio State University, which has one of the largest and most extensive string pedagogy degree programs in the nation. His students teach in school systems and universities throughout the country.

Dr. Gillespie is a frequent guest conductor of All-State, Region, and festival orchestras throughout the country and Europe, and he has presented string teacher sessions, workshops, and conducted concerts at national and state music educator conferences in forty-four states and Canada. His string education articles appear frequently in all the major music journals. He is co-author of the Hal Leonard string method book series, Essential Elements for Strings, Essential Elements 2000 for Strings, and Essential Elements for Strings Plus DVD, which has sold over five million copies and is used in the majority of school systems throughout the country for string instruction. He is also co-author of the text, Getting Started: Strolling Strings for MENC and of the Oxford University Press book, Strategies for Teaching Strings: Building A Successful School Orchestra Program (second edition). He is co-author of the String Clinics to Go DVD series and the three Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra texts for GIA publications. He received the Distinguished Scholar award given by his faculty colleagues in 2002-2003 in the School of Music at Ohio State University, and he is a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of Research in Music Education. Dr. Gillespie served on the Executive Board of ASTA for eight years was the national President of the American String Teachers Association from 2006 to 2008.

In summers, Dr. Gillespie directs the OSU Summer String Teacher Conference in Columbus, one of the largest string/orchestra teacher training workshops in the country. Dr. Gillespie is a string education clinician for the Conn-Selmer Corporation. In Columbus, he conducts the Columbus Symphony Chamber Strings Youth Orchestra and is a performing violinist in the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra.

Under the direction of Sara Given, Junior Strings encourages the technical and musical development of young string players in grades 3-7 throughout central Ohio. Since 2003, the orchestra has been designed to foster the growth and development of string and orchestral experiences for young people in central Ohio. 

Junior Strings rehearses on Wednesday afternoons from 4:45pm-6:00pm, and performs about 2-3 times per season. The annual tuition cost for Junior Strings is $465. Financial Aid and payment plans are available for each of our ensembles upon request.


Sara Given teaches middle and high school orchestra with the Hilliard City Schools. Previously, Ms.Given worked in the New Albany-Plain Local and Centerville City Schools and served as Master Teacher for The Ohio State University String Project.

Ms.Given earned her Master’s Degree in String Music Education with an emphasis in String Pedagogy from The Ohio State University.  She earned her undergraduate degree in Instrumental Music Education from Ohio University.

As a frequent guest conductor and clinician, Sara has presented clinics for The National Association for Music Education, The American String Teachers Association, The Ohio Music Educators Association, and The Midwest String Teachers Workshop. Her work has been published in The Triad Journal for Music Education and Strings Magazine.  In the summer, Sara serves on the Junior Orchestras conducting staff at The Interlochen Center for the Arts.