For more than 60 years, the Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program has provided high-quality music education and performance experience to thousands of students in the Albuquerque area. What began in 1955 as a single orchestra has steadily and sustainably grown to serve over 550 students annually. Hundreds of students in grades 4-12 audition each season for placement in one of the program’s 8 ensembles for strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

It is thanks to numerous individuals each season – talented musical staff, administrative staff, board members, community partners, parents, and students – that AYSP continues a tradition of excellence in music education and performance!


The Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program (AYSP) was formed in1955 as a collaborative project between the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and the University of New Mexico (UNM). Dr Kurt Frederick of UNM was the first conductor, and the orchestra included students in grades 7-12.

In 1964, as part of his position with the University of New Mexico Music Department, Dale Kempter became the Conductor and Music Director of the Youth Symphony. With increasing student interest, over the next ten years, Mr. Kempter lead the expansion of the program to include two high school orchestras for grades 9-12 and two middle school orchestras for grades 6-8.

In the early 1990s, a joint task-force of UNM, APS, and community representatives recommended that that Albuquerque Youth Symphony Program become an independent non-profit organization under the governance of a board of directors. Still today, representatives of both APS and UNM provide valuable leadership to AYSP as members of the Board of Directors. Over the next 25 years, AYSP continued to expand to serve more students – adding the Preparatory String Orchestra, Junior String Orchestra, Junior Band and Youth Concert Orchestra.

Dale Kempter retired as conductor of the Youth Symphony in 2001 and Music Director in 2009. Gabriel Gordon served as the Program’s second Music Director and conductor of the Youth Symphony until 2014 when he relocated to Utah with his family. In July of 2014, Sayra Siverson, an AYSP conductor of 16 years, was hired as the program’s third Music Director.