Kingston Youth Orchestra
Kingston Youth Orchestra

In its support of music education in our region, the Kingston Symphony Association created three youth ensembles: Kingston Youth Orchestra, Kingston Youth Strings, and Kingston A-Strings. All three groups benefit from professional leadership and from a range of performing opportunities throughout the season. These ensembles include approximately 65 young musicians from Kingston and the surrounding region.

2023-2024 Season

Our 2023-24 Season will feature a number of exciting concerts. For a complete list of concerts, visit Kingston Youth Orchestra Concerts.


Kingston Youth Orchestra

The Kingston Youth Orchestra is made up of high school-aged musicians who seek a challenge, who are developing their ensemble skills, and possibly considering a career in music. The Kingston Youth Orchestra is the only full orchestra (strings, winds, brass, and percussion) for youth in Kingston and the surrounding area. The orchestra performs a wide range of music, at an intermediate to advanced level, from Masterworks to Pops. The Kingston Youth Orchestra draws its membership from its own string preparatory groups as well as from other local string programs and private teachers in Kingston. Most of our wind, brass, and percussion players come from area high schools and from private teaching studios.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018-2019, the Kingston Youth Orchestra is conducted by Hugh Johnston. The Kingston Youth Orchestra performs two concerts each season and also performs in festivals and outreach concerts. Many alumni of the Kingston Youth Orchestra, as well as being successful in other fields, have gone on to pursue careers as professional musicians and remain active in music as members of community orchestras and ensembles.

Kingston Youth Strings

The Kingston Youth Strings is an intermediate string ensemble and consists of musicians who are keen to develop their performing skills. Under the direction of Danielle Lennon, they perform an exciting repertoire of music from various genres, which leads to an introduction to orchestral technique and style. They perform in at least two concerts each year as well as at festivals and outreach concerts. The Kingston Youth Strings promote interest in more advanced string playing and nurture future participation in the Kingston Youth Orchestra. The instrumentation of this ensemble includes violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Kingston A-Strings

The Kingston A-Strings is an introductory ensemble for young string musicians conducted by Danielle Lennon. They work on unison ensemble playing in a supportive and nurturing environment. The Kingston A-Strings is designed to foster confidence and enthusiasm for music and provides a foundation for the successful implementation of proper string technique. Members participate in two concerts each season. The instrumentation of this ensemble includes violin, viola, cello, and double bass.

Artistic Directors

Hugh Johnston, Kingston Youth Orchestra Music Director

Hugh Johnston was a regular player in the Kingston Symphony trumpet section from 2001 to 2012 and is an award-winning music educator. He won the MusicCounts Teacher of the Year Juno Award in 2012. Hugh has trained as a musician and conductor at Queen’s University, University of Calgary, and University of London, U.K. His expressive and communicative conducting style, as well as his work in music education, has enabled him to conduct performances at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Cadogan Hall in London, home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In addition to orchestral work, Hugh has conducted numerous musicals, operettas, choirs, bands, and brass ensembles and was the founder and artistic director of Kingston Summer Music, a summer program for Kingston’s youth.

Danielle Lennon, Kingston Youth Strings & Kingston A-Strings Conductor

Danielle Lennon grew up in Hamilton, Ontario where she began her musical studies on the recorder at the age of four and has been making music ever since. In 1999, she moved to Kingston where she completed a Bachelor of Music degree on the violin at Queen’s University. She spent her summers playing on a dinner cruise on the Grand River where fiddling became a big part of her repertoire.

In addition to directing the Kingston Youth Strings and Kingston A-Strings, Danielle teaches violin privately, plays second violin with the Kingston Symphony and the Limestone Trio, and plays with various bands in and around the area doing guest spots and studio work. She is a member of Calamity Janes, an all-female folk-rock quartet and she can be heard on recordings by Kasador, Chris Koster, Choir of Ghosts, The Swamp Ward Orchestra, Kyra and Tully, Ianspotting, Kris and Dee, and Megan Hamilton. She also released her own album of original music, String Theory, in 2015 and currently has another composing project in the works.

Auditions and Rehearsals

Are you interested in meeting other young musicians, rehearsing and performing some great repertoire, participating in workshops and receiving coaching from Kingston Symphony musicians and visiting artists, competing in local and regional music festivals, performing in some of Kingston’s finest concert venues, and attending open rehearsals of the Kingston Symphony? The Kingston Youth Orchestra, Kingston Youth Strings or Kingston A-Strings is the perfect place for you!

Auditions for the Kingston Youth Orchestra, Kingston Youth Strings, and Kingston A-Strings will be held on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 at Christ Church Cataraqui, 990 Sydenham Road.


  • Kingston A-Strings: 5:00 p.m. - 5:35 p.m. at Christ Church Cataraqui
  • Kingston Youth Strings: 5:45 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. at Christ Church Cataraqui
  • Kingston Youth Orchestra: 7:00 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. at Christ Church Cataraqui

Membership Dues

Tuition for the Kingston Youth Orchestra, Kingston Youth Strings, and Kingston A-Strings is partially funded by the Kingston Symphony Association and as such membership fees are quite reasonable. Family discounts are also available. The fees for 2023-2024 are Kingston A-Strings - $125, Kingston Youth Strings - $175, and Kingston Youth Orchestra - $250.

How to Apply

If you would like to audition or get more information, please contact Susan Johnston, General Manager.

More Information

* Mid-Season Application

Interested in joining for January 2024? Check out the audition notices and complete the form below.