About the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra

Introducing New PYSO Music Director Earl Lee

The Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) has named Earl Lee as new Music Director, beginning his tenure this September at the start of the 2018-2019 season.

He has also been appointed as the new Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO).

Maestro Lee will join PYSO and the PSO fresh from the heels of his tenure as Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Craig Johnson, Executive Director of PYSO states “We are extremely fortunate and excited that Mr. Lee can continue in maintaining the excellent collaborative relationship that has been a long held tradition between the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra.”

President and CEO of the PSO’s Melia Tourangeau adds; “We are thrilled to have Mr. Lee join the artistic team of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.  His background and talent will be a true asset to the organization and we look forward to introducing him to the Pittsburgh Community.”  “Earl Lee was selected following an extensive search that culminated in a successful audition before the musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra,”

Mary Persin, Vice President of Artistic Planning.  “He represents the excellence and spirit of the organization and also shares our deep commitment to young people and the community.  We believe that he will make a great impact on our audiences and the entire organization looks forward to working together with him.”

A dynamic and energetic figure on stage, Canadian musician Earl Lee pursues a diverse career both as a conductor and a cellist. Lee currently holds the RBC Resident Conductor position of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Artistic Director & Conductor position of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra. Lee frequently appears on the podium at the Roy Thomson Hall leading the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as making guest conducting appearances throughout the world.

Earl Lee was the only Canadian, and one of seven conductors out of over two hundred applicants selected by renowned conductor Bernard Haitink as an active participant in the 2016 Haitink Masterclass at the Lucerne Easter Festival. A two time participant at the prestigious Kurt Masur Conducting Seminar in New York, Lee was one of two 2013 Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship recipient chosen by Maestro Masur. As a Mendelssohn Scholar Lee traveled to Leipzig, Germany, to study with Masur the music and life of Felix Mendelssohn. Lee received a 2013 Ansbacher Conducting Fellowship Award, selected by the American Austrian Foundation and members of the Vienna Philharmonic, and spent six weeks at the Salzburg Festival in Austria. Lee also participated in the 5th International Conducting Masterclass with David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2014.

Dedicated to sharing music beyond the concert hall and with the community at large, Lee is passionately engaged in student, outreach and run-out concerts as he firmly believes in music’s ability to nourish, inspire, and heal. With the TSO, Lee plays a key role in programming and scripting student concerts and performs for thousands of students annually. As a cellist, Lee performed in numerous run-out concerts with the goal of bringing the joys of music making to people in retirement homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and churches.

As a cellist, Lee has toured with Chick Corea, Gary Burton Duo and as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet in 2012. Lee performed in many notable series and venues during this tour including Symphony Hall in Boston, Maison symphonique de Montréal and the iconic Blue Note jazz club in New York City. As a passionate chamber musician, Lee has toured all over the United States as part of such ensembles as Musicians from Marlboro. Lee’s cello performance frequently appears on major radio programs including the St. Paul Sunday. Lee has performed at prestigious summer festivals such as Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Caramoor Rising Stars, and Ravinia’s Steans Institute. He is currently a member of a conductor-less chamber ensemble, the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO).

A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School with degrees in cello, Earl began his conducting studies in 2010 studying with Ignat Solzhenitsyn. In 2013, Lee received his Masters in Conducting from the Manhattan School of Music, studying with George Manahan. Lee continued his post-graduate conducting studies at the New England Conservatory with Hugh Wolff prior to starting his tenure with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.


The mission of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra is to teach and inspire excellence through orchestral training, to perform in premier venues, and to cultivate audiences for classical music.

PYSO members bring a sense of amazement and excitement about classical music to diverse audiences-young and old, novice and seasoned. Through their impressive performances, dedication, and commitment they also serve as role-models for aspiring younger musicians and students. Through their demanding tours in the U.S. and internationally, they have become outstanding cultural ambassadors of the Pittsburgh Region, Pennsylvania, and the United States.


The Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra (PYSO) is one of the city’s cultural treasures.  It is one of the oldest youth orchestras in the country, and one of the most advanced. PYSO cultivates in its members discipline, fine musicianship and an overall appreciation for excellence.

  • PYSO was founded in 1945 for the purpose of providing educational opportunities and the finest orchestral training for young musicians in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.
  • Is an independent youth orchestra in all governing, administrative and financial matters.
  • Has made Heinz Hall (home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra ) its home since the hall in opened in 1971.

Many PYSO alumni have won positions in major symphony orchestras at home and abroad, including Boston, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and our own Pittsburgh Symphony, to name a few.  Others have gone on to very successful solo and chamber music careers, as well as important teaching positions at colleges, universities, public and private schools, and private studios. Those who have not chosen careers in music will undoubtedly cultivate a lifelong appreciation of the arts and become the audience members of the future.


In addition to our orchestra program, the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra collaborates with the Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras (TRYPO) and City Music Center of Duquesne University (CMC) in Youth Chamber Connection (YC2) that provides chamber music training to talented, young musicians in the tri-state area while engaging in outreach performances in the community that benefit many thousands of people.

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