Program Overview

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Youth Chamber Connection (YC²) offers chamber music education, enrichment, and community-service performance opportunities for members of Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras (TRYPO), the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO), and other interested young musicians. YC² is administrated by TRYPO staff. All musicians (approx. grades 3-12) are welcome to apply, regardless of your music program affiliation. Our goal is to expose as many students as possible to the joy of playing chamber music!

October Update: We are excited to have 19 chamber groups formed for this year! Registration is still open - we have a few immediate openings, plus we are happy to form additional groups if there is adequate interest.

Contact Laurie Cunningham for more information:, 412-391-0185.

Scroll down for information about the YC² program!

Click here to view a VIDEO of highlights from our 2018-19 season.


Joining a small ensemble is the most collaborative form of music making around! Every player has their own, individual part to play; and, at the same time, the handful of players learn to work together to play as ONE. Each musician must contribute fully for the group to achieve success. Students gain musical and interpersonal technical skills. They learn to listen to and watch each other closely, sometimes leading and other times following. They develop a musical imagination and self confidence as they test out ideas together; and they learn to give and be open to constructive criticism. Oh, and also, playing chamber music is fun!!!

For more on “Why Chamber Music?” click here.


We make every effort to place all interested musicians in a suitable chamber group (most often quartets and quintets), provided there are other interested students of a similar age, playing level, schedule availability, and appropriate instrumentation. Most years, we are able to place 100% of students who register during our placement period August 1-September 15. 


Depending on the average age and experience of the group members, ensembles will be assigned to one of two program tracks:

  • Performance Track for older students, approximately 8th-12th+ grade.

  • Education Track for younger students, approximately 3rd-8th grade.

  • The difference is the length of time groups meet each week, and the number of performances they are asked to complete each year.


  • Performance Track groups meet 45 minutes with their coach each week, plus another 45 minutes rehearsing on their own, strengthening their skills in leadership, listening, cooperation, and learning to make their own musical decisions.

  • Education Track groups meet with their coach for 45 minutes each week; and some experienced Education Track groups may have an additional 10-20 minutes of rehearsal-on-own time scheduled each week.

  • Ensembles which include members of TRYPO or City Music Center most often rehearse on Saturdays at Duquesne University, accommodating their other Saturday commitments.

  • Ensembles which include members of PYSO most often rehearse on Sundays in Downtown Pittsburgh before PYSO rehearsal.


  • Performance Track ensembles perform in a winter and spring recital, plus are required to complete at least two community-service performances. These may be a Pop-Up Concert in a Carnegie Library (CLP) neighborhood branch, a senior center, the downtown homeless dinner, a community or non-profit organization’s special event, or other setting where live music is rarely offered.

  • Education Track ensembles perform in a winter and spring recital, plus are encouraged to complete at least one community-service performance.

  • Throughout the year, chamber groups will also be offered opportunities to perform at special events which support our partners in the arts.

  • Any YC² group is welcome to exceed these requirements, and each year most ensembles do!

  • During our 2018-19 year, YC² arranged more than 120 performances at area churches, neighborhood libraries, Heinz Hall, Benedum Center, Governor's Mansion in Harrisburg, LaRoche College, Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, August Wilson Center, Carnegie Music Hall, KDKA-TV, WQED-FM, Saturday Light Brigade Radio at the Children’s Museum, and many more! 


Throughout the year, YC² organizes community-service performance events for its members, as well as other interested students, in order to generously share music with others in our community. Musicians do not have to be registered in YC² in order to participate in these opportunities. See below for our first opportunity this fall!

POP-UP CONCERT SERIES with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in honor of 2019 RAD Days! This year YC² will present live music in 25 Pop-Up Concerts in neighborhood branch libraries to celebrate RAD’s 25th anniversary! You can sign up to play at one of the neighborhood branch libraries, share live music in one of several communities throughout our city, and earn community-service hours. For this particular event, YC² groups will not yet be up and running, so we’ll match all interested students into temporary ensembles for this event only. If you are not planning to join YC², but would like to participate in this event or others scheduled this year, contact to sign up.

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019 – Libraries include Lawrenceville, West End, Homewood, and East Liberty! Times will be scheduled to suit student availability.

  • Sunday, September 22, 2019 – Libraries include South Side, Oakland, and North Side! Times will be scheduled to suit student availability.  


  • Registration Window: August 1, 2019­-September 15, 2019. Registrations received during this time period have the best chance of being matched in a chamber ensemble. Later registrations are still welcome, and we will work hard to try to find a match for you.

  • Group confirmation: September 25-October 1. Most students will be confirmed in a chamber group via email during this period.

  • No Cancellation Window: September 15-October 20, 2019. Matching more than 80 students each year into a suitable ensemble is a very complicated puzzle. One last-minute cancellation can negatively affect multiple students.

  • Rehearsals Begin: TBA. Students will receive their first rehearsal date, time, and location when they receive confirmation of a group assignment.

  • YC² Rehearsal Season: October through early-May (holiday weeks and some performance weeks excluded).


  • In chamber music, each student has their own unique part; therefore, the groups which make the most progress are those with excellent student attendance.

  • Understandably, individuals will have a conflict from time to time; however, YC² groups will still meet at their regularly scheduled time, provided at least two group members are able to attend.

  • Before planning events which will cause your student to miss rehearsal, please consult the YC² calendar in case optional activities can be scheduled on weeks we are on hiatus.


  • Our coaching team includes faculty from Duquesne University, Carnegie Mellon University; members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh; and other wonderful music educators.

  • Each group is assigned their own coach to work with all year. If a coach is unavailable, YC² will arrange for another coach to work with the group that week.


  • All groups begin the year preparing easy, sight-readable music in order to be ready to perform at community events throughout the year, as their schedules allow.

  • Coaches select professional chamber music repertoire which will give each member an opportunity to be challenged and grow as a musician this year.

  • Skills such as listening, non-verbal communication, articulation, intonation, dynamics, organization, practice tips, and more, will be focused on throughout the year. 

  • Public speaking and performance skills, which allow groups to better engage their audience, will be emphasized.


  • Individual ensembles vary in their enthusiasm and commitment level each year, usually as a result of individual schedules.

  • All groups complete the minimum requirements of our program; many groups exceed those requirements, completing five or six performances and have a lot of fun; and, a few groups go above and beyond each year!

  • High-achieving groups typically choose to schedule extra rehearsal time, often at one of their homes; they commit to individual practice; they are always on time, prepared, with their sheet music and music stand ready when the coach arrives; and they are good communicators. These ensembles may compete in local and national competitions which can result in scholarship awards, plus they receive exclusive invitations to perform at prestigious events.  

  • Chamber groups select their own group name, and are encouraged to coordinate their attire for performances. Some ensembles select a theme color and the students wear ties, dresses, scarves, vests, or even socks in that color. Other groups dress in all black, or they wear black bottoms and white tops. Group name and performance attire concept must be approved by the group’s coach or YC² Staff.

  • Education Track groups require parent involvement and approval for all scheduling.

  • Parent involvement is welcome for Performance Track groups also, but the groups which soar are those where students take responsibility for scheduling and communication with the YC² Manager.


Students pay annual tuition for participation in YC². Tuition covers only a portion of our expenses and TRYPO and PYSO engage in annual fund-raising to cover the balance.

  • PERFORMANCE TRACK (PT) for students in approximately 8th-12th+ grade: $550/year

  • EDUCATION TRACK (ET) for students in approximately 3rd-8th grade: $450/year

  • HOUSEHOLD DISCOUNT: Households that have a child registered in PYSO or in another TRYPO program for 2019-20, may be eligible for a $100 household discount ($50 per semester).

  • PAYMENT PLANS: Families can choose which works for you (less household discount if applicable):

    • Plan A: Pay in full October 15 - $550 (PT) or $450 (ET)

    • Plan B: Pay in two payments: $325 (PT) or $275 (ET) October 15; and $225 (PT) or $175 (ET) January 15.

    • Plan C: Pay in five payments: $190 (PT) or $170 (ET) October 15, 2019; and four additional payments of $90 (PT) or $70 (ET) November 15, January 15, February 15, and March 15.


We offer a financial aid and scholarship program to assist deserving, eligible students. Families should not be discouraged from applying to YC² due to financial limitations. YC² is administrated by TRYPO, in partnership with PYSO. Both are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations committed to keeping costs as low as possible without diminishing the quality or depth of programming, and ensuring that no deserving young musician be denied participation based on financial means. Once your student is offered a spot in a chamber group, you will be asked to complete the Member Agreement which includes a place to indicate you would like to be considered for tuition assistance.


YC² welcomes young musicians at all playing levels who have adequate skills for ensemble work. Students are asked to complete the above registration form, plus email a video of yourself playing solo to  Choose something you are confident playing, one to three minutes in length. A casual, home-video recorded with your phone is all we need, no accompaniment necessary. Ensure lighting is adequate and the students' arms and instrument are in view (i.e. no music stand blocking). Videos enable our staff to put groups together and for coaches to choose repertoire. Please send the video as soon as possible after completing your registration.

Who should send a video? All musicians including past and current members of YC², TRYPO, and PYSO - even those in a pre-formed group, for the coach to review before approving repertoire.


Pre-Formed ensembles who wish to join YC² as a group are welcome – groups may self-form; may be returning from a previous year; or met or were formed through a school, orchestra, or elsewhere. Groups formed within a high-school music program are encouraged to remain together as a YC² group. Each member of the group should register individually and note your preferences in the comments section on the registration form. Additionally, please have one member email Mrs. Cunningham at to discuss your schedule. For the 2019-2020 year, all members of a self-formed group must be individually registered by September 15, 2019. After that date, YC² will complete any partially-formed ensembles with a qualified, registered student on our waiting list.   

Please contact me if you have any questions. If not, we’ll look forward to receiving your registration! If your form submits properly, you’ll receive an automatic email confirmation (check your spam folder), and we’ll be in touch. We are looking forward to a great year of chamber music!

Laurie Cunningham, YC² Manager


Office Phone: 412-391-0185