In 1988, members of the music community of Berks County recognized the need to provide talented student musicians an opportunity to perform and gain experience in learning symphonic repertoire. Accordingly, the Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra (RSYO) was established in the fall of 1989 as a project of the Education Committee of the Reading Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors. Through a competitive audition process, Peter Brye was chosen as conductor. He was later appointed as Music Director of the RSYO.
Auditions are held annually for instrumental music students from 9th through 12th grades, primarily from Berks County, but also from Lancaster, Chester, and Montgomery Counties. The RSYO season includes two full programs each year, including a Holliday Concert and a Spring Concert. The RSYO also performs annually at a regularly scheduled RSO concert and all junior and senior members are invited yearly to perform side-by-side with their counterparts in the RSO.
The RSYO has traveled and performed in youth music festivals including appearances at Virginia Beach, Boston, and Toronto, Canada. Additionally, the RSYO was invited to perform at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association annual meeting on April 13, 2000 in Pittsburg, PA.
In June 2001, the RSYO embarked on their first concert tour abroad to the United Kingdom, performing four concerts over their ten day excursion. The orchestra has continued a busy international concert schedule, visiting and performing in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Czech Republic, and Italy.