The Symphony, conducted by Ismael Sandoval, is the premiere orchestra of the CSOYO, representing some of the best middle and high school talent in the Chattanooga area. They often perform standard orchestral repertoire and difficult contemporary works that would be a challenge for any orchestra. Some of the Symphony alumni are now members of top professional symphony orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic. 

Students auditioning for the Symphony must be 12-19 years of age.

Ismael Sandoval, Symphony Conductor

Ismael Sandoval joined the CSO in 2020 as CSO Assistant Conductor and CSOYO Symphony Conductor. He most recently served as Assistant/Cover Conductor for the Boston Philharmonic & Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, as well as Music Director for the Promenade Opera Project, Assistant/Cover Conductor for The Eureka Ensemble, and Artistic Director and Conductor of The Women’s Chorus. Sandoval graduated with Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Music Composition from the University of Florida, and holds a Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting from The Boston Conservatory.

“After Gary Wilkes’ long-term tenure with the CSOYO, we are happy to announce our next leader who will continue the tradition of excellence with the youth orchestras,” states Kayoko Dan, CSO Music Director. “Ismael is an excellent and energetic educator and musician and we’re thrilled to have him join our conducting staff.”

“I’m beyond thrilled to be working with everyone at the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, especially the students of the CSOYO, who are an amazing part of the city’s arts and educational communities,” states Sandoval. “In addition to doing what I can to enable both orchestras to succeed and grow, a major priority for me during my time there will be to cultivate a stronger community in Chattanooga by engaging all of us through collaborative and community driven endeavors.”


The Philharmonic, conducted by Sandy Morris, is the second orchestra of the CSOYO, representing up and coming middle and high school talent in the Chattanooga area.  They perform many challenging and interesting orchestral selections, including standard repertoire.  For many wind players, this is the first opportunity to play along with string players in a full orchestra.

Students auditioning for the Philharmonic must be 10-19 years of age. Students auditioning for the Philharmonic who are younger than 12 must have a recommendation from their private music teacher (or school instrumental music teacher).

Sandy Morris, Philharmonic Conductor

Sandy Morris is looking forward to working with talented musicians in her twenty-first season as Conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra.  In her career as a musician/ music educator in Chattanooga, she has conducted orchestras, bands, and choirs.  She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana as well as a Master of Music degree in Music Education and a Master of Music degree in Conducting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  Sandy has done graduate work in conducting and string pedagogy at the University of Iowa, Orchestral Institute of America, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and she has attended workshops sponsored by the League of American Orchestras, Conductors’ Guild, and the Waterville Valley (NH) Music Center.   Her conducting teachers have included Dr. Steven Bird, Dr. William Larue Jones, Kenneth Kiesler, and Dr. Marvin Rabin. 

Sandy is also Conductor of the UTC Symphony Orchestra, Music Director for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and Assistant Conductor and flutist for the Chattanooga Community Orchestra and the Chattanooga Area Flute Society.  She also plays flute in Grace Notes, a trio that plays at area hospitals, churches, and senior centers. She was formerly Director of Strings and Music Theory at Center for Creative Arts and is active as a clinician, adjudicator, and arranger.  She has been honored as an Outstanding Teacher by the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and by Who’s Who Among American Teachers.  Sandy is a member of National Association for Music Education, East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association, National Education Association, MacDowell Music Club, and Sigma Alpha Iota as well as former State Orchestra Chair and All-State Orchestra Chair for the Tennessee Music Educators Association.  She enjoys spending her free time with her best friend and husband Ron as well as with son Michael and his family.


The Etude, conducted by Amy Shannon, is the intermediate level string training orchestra of the CSOYO, representing many talented young people from area elementary and middle schools. They perform an interesting variety of selections for string orchestra as they continue to learn the art of ensemble performance.


The Prelude, conducted by Amy Shannon, is the beginning level string training orchestra of the CSOYO, representing many talented young people from area elementary and middle schools. They perform an interesting variety of selections for string orchestra as they begin to learn the art of performing together

Additional auditions for the Prelude and Etude Orchestras may be held in the fall and in January at the Conductor’s discretion. 

Amy Shannon, Prelude & Etude Conductor

Amy Shannon is a CSOYO alumnus and is thrilled to serve as Interim Conductor of the Prelude and Etude Orchestras.

She is a native Chattanoogan and holds a bachelor of music education degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has over 20 years of professional musical experience as a music educator, mentor, and performer. Since 1997 she has been teaching private cello lessons to beginner, intermediate and advanced students throughout the Southeast. She started ten new elementary string programs in the Orlando, Florida area. While teaching in Florida, she was awarded the Music Demonstration School Award by FMEA,became a mentor to first year teachers, and was in charge of designing orchestra programs for the entire county. After moving back to Chattanooga she began string programs at Nolan and Thrasher elementary schools and began teaching orchestra at Signal Mountain Middle High School. Her orchestra performed at many community functions, venues, and performed at the state capitol. During this time, she was master teacher of the String Project at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and was a member of ETSBOA and TMEA.

Currently, she teaches an after school elementary strings program at Boyd- Buchanan Elementary School, maintains a private cello studio at Mccallie and in the Hixson area, teaches at music camps and masterclasses in many Chattanooga area schools. She is a founding member of Somersault String Ensemble and performs throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Amy is a member of The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Cadek Community Orchestra, and a sub with the Chattanooga Symphony.

Amy is married to her best friend, Tyler, and is a mom to three sons, Owen, Tanner, and Blake