Mission Statement:

The mission of the Green Mountain Youth Symphony is to create a community of young musicians from Northern and Central Vermont through the performance of great music.



GMYS strives to be an essential part of the development of children into well-rounded young adults by creating healthy alternate peer groups, providing mentoring relationships with musical adults, and challenging members with high yet achievable expectations while maintaining an enjoyable rehearsal environment. The Green Mountain Youth Symphony:

  • Supports the musical growth of its students, both as individual musicians and as members of an orchestra, in a positive, encouraging, and non-competitive environment;
  • Expects all members to demonstrate excellence and effort appropriate to their own levels of musical ability;
  • Educates young musicians about orchestral playing and technique as well as about classical music as a living art form;
  • Instills a lifelong love of music in its members, whether as future professional musicians and music teachers, amateur players, audience members, or casual listeners; and
  • Connects orchestra members with the community in which they live and integrates the orchestra into the cultural life of Central Vermont.



The Green Mountain Youth Symphony (GMYS) was founded in 2001 to provide young musicians of Central Vermont with the opportunity to play and perform orchestral music in their own community with their peers. Prior to its existence, many student musicians traveled great distances in order to find a comparable program, and many others were unable to participate in a youth orchestra.

Now in its ninth year under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Blais, the Green Mountain Youth Symphony reaches approximately one hundred young musicians each year from more than twenty-five towns throughout Central and Northern Vermont. GMYS continues to offer a rich musical experience where children can pursue their interests and talents, find a vehicle for self-expression, and learn teamwork. GMYS provides young musicians with a vital alternative for developing character and self-esteem through discipline and hard work, imparting feelings of importance and competence through meaningful accomplishment, and cultivating a sense of themselves as musicians.


Past highlights of the GMYS orchestra program include:

  • Performances at First Night Montpelier 2005—2010; Montpelier’s Independence Day Celebration in 2008 and 2010; Farmers Night; family concerts with the Vermont Philharmonic in 2009 and 2010; and Project Outreach with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra Society 2008—2010;
  • Concerts at the St. Johnsbury Academy, at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, and in Northfield sponsored by the Paine Mountain Arts Council;
  • World-premiere performances of commissioned works by Vermont composers such as Erik Nielsen, Laura Koplewitz, and Dennis Bathory-Kitsz; and
  • Features on WCAX-TV and on Vermont Notes on WCVT radio

"We had a small dream: to establish a youth orchestra in Central Vermont. We started with the idea that if we could get a dozen or so kids together with a good conductor, we could slowly grow our program here in Montpelier. Forty-three young musicians showed up for our auditions! Within a year, we were seventy players strong. Now we can call it a dream realized!" – August Burns, Founder


Conductors & Staff


Robert Blais
Artistic Director
Conductor, Concert and Senior Orchestras

Robert Blais, Artistic Director of the Green Mountain Youth Symphony, embarked on a conducting career when he created the Boston-based cello orchestra Blazin' Cellos. Upon arriving in Montpelier in 2001, he founded GMYS, Central Vermont's own youth orchestra.

Together, Mr. Blais and GMYS have captivated audiences at the Vermont Statehouse for Farmer's Night, for the Paine Mountain Arts Council, the Vermont Capitol Independence Day Celebration on the Capitol Steps, yearly at Montpelier's First Night celebration, in joint concerts with the Vermont Philharmonic, and regularly at the Barre Opera House. Robert Blais and the GMYS are champions of contemporary music, having commissioned and performed world premieres of orchestral works by Dennis Bathory-Kitsz, Erik Nielsen, Laura Koplewitz, Pam Marshall, and Lydia Busler-Blais, and in 2005 produced a concert comprised of music written entirely in the last twenty years by female composers.

After more than tripling the size of GMYS, Robert has expanded the orchestra's reach, starting new orchestras at the Upper Valley Music Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Robert is recently excited by GMYS' 2011 trip to Quebec City for the Eurochestries Festival, where he and the kids joined five other young ensembles from Europe and Asia. There, Blais conducted a combined orchestra comprised of students from the Youth Orchestra of the Leipzig School of Music "Johann Sebastian Bach”, the Dalian University Symphony Orchestra from China, the University of Valence (Spain) Honors Woodwind Quintet, and GMYS. Vermont Governor Shumlin honored the GMYS and Robert by proclaiming August 14-21, 2011 Green Mountain Youth Symphony Week.

In addition to his work with GMYS, Robert Blais has conducted for the Monteverdi Music Camp, the Vermont-based School for Strings Camp, the Montpelier Capitol Orchestra, the Vermont Philharmonic, the current Blazin' Cellos based in Vermont, and is a frequent guest conductor for numerous programs and festivals. He receives rave reviews for his educational outreach concerts from seasoned performers, teachers, and students alike.

Robert is also a well-known cellist and pedagogue, having been featured as a soloist with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, the Holyoke Symphony, the Guilford Music Festival Orchestra, and the Melrose Symphony Orchestra, as well as travelling as a chamber musician. Locally, his students play with the Vermont Philharmonic, the Green Mountain Youth Symphony, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, and the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra.



Paul Perley
Conductor, Repertory Orchestra

Paul Perley, conductor, cellist, composer, and luthier, began his musical education at age eight; his teachers have included, among others, Elizabeth Endress, Albert Bellson (brother of Louis Bellson) and Helene Gagne. Locally he has performed with the Vermont Philharmonic, the Bartholdy Ensemble, the Gabriel Piano Trio, the cello duo Soavita (with his wife Melissa), and is a founding member of the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra.

As a composer Mr. Perley has written music for theater productions, chamber music ensembles, and several youth orchestras. In 2010 he composed, and recorded the score for the film Four Friends which premiered at the 2010 Green Mountain Film Festival. He is currently working on the scores for a several others. In 1999 he created the Green Mountain Waldorf Orchestra, several members of which are pursuing professional music careers.

He conducted the orchestra until the closing of the school. He has conducted for GMYS since 2002. Paul and his wife, Melissa, maintain private teaching and ensemble studios at their home on Berlin Pond.




Board of Directors and Affiliations

Michael Fiorillo
(802) 276-3826

Judith Ehrlich

Jennifer Isabell
(802) 888-9329

Oren Kronick
(802) 229-4503

Sandra Ferver
(802) 229-5436

Laura Furber
(802) 225-6416

Leah-Marie Gagnon
(802) 522-5409


Latest News & Events

The Green Mountain Youth Symphony Third Annual Playathon

Monteplier, Vermont October 8, 2016

GMYS musicians played from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Christ Episcopal Church on State Street in Montpelier to the delight of downtown crowds. This was the third year GMYS has put on a playathon. Delicious baked goods provided by friends and families of GMYS were sold, and increased to the success of this tradition. A big thanks to our musicians who solicited pledges to support our programming.



Donate Online

The Green Mountain Youth Orchestra and its programs are made possible by the generosity of others. There are several ways to support GMYS.



GMYS on Facebook GMYS on Twitter GMYS on Twitter GMYS on RSS



GMYS on Facebook GMYS on Twitter GMYS on Twitter GMYS on RSS