The annual GSYO Senior Symphony Retreat is currently held at the University of California, Santa Cruz in early August. GSYO has exclusive use of the modern Music Center, which includes specially equipped classrooms, individual practice and teaching studios, and large rehearsal space for ensembles. The students are housed in the residence halls, located a short walking distance from the Music Center.
The August Retreat is mandatory for all members of the GSYO Senior Symphony. Accompanying the students will be parent chaperones, Symphony Conductor John Eells, a coach for each Symphony Orchestra section, and GSYO staff.
The retreat is fundamental not only to the quality of the overall program but to each student's individual progress. It is the first step towards a rewarding season. The musicians are scheduled for two sectionals and a full orchestra rehearsal each day where they are expected to work diligently and to achieve their potential. During the week, students will participate in seating auditions which will determine positioning for the first concert. Seating audition music will be distributed to GSYO members in June.
Prior to the retreat, it is highly recommended that musicians study the audition excerpts with their private teacher, and listen to recordings of the repertoire.
The retreat is an opportunity to get acquainted with the conductor and coaches, fellow musicians. Evening activities include a team game night, movie night, karaoke, and the GSYO Talent Show. Mid-week, the entire Symphony takes an afternoon off to visit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, a time to enjoy the sun, beach, and fun with friends.