Youth Orchestra

Corpus Christi Area

over 100 students representing 36 schools participate in one of four ensembles. 

Thanks to our community sponsors

The Corpus Christi Area Youth Orchestra (CCAYO) has been an educational branch of the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra since 1996. The program, founded in the 1950s, was originally an extension of the Corpus Christi Independent School District.

 The CCAYO provides two full orchestras (strings, winds and percussion), an intermediate string ensemble and one elementary string class for instrumental students from 8-19 years of age.  We also offer two levels of cello choir for our students. Cello choir meets weekly alongside CCAYO and is open to all students in the Corpus Christi community. We welcome students of all levels and offer exciting repertoire for cellos and bass ensembles. Each CCAYO ensemble performs at least twice a year.

Thanks to our community sponsors, area instrumental students participate without charge.


Meet the Directors
Frequently asked questions
Auditions & Try outs
Become a member

To become a member of the Corpus Christi Area Youth Orchestra, students must audition to be placed in an ensemble. You must sign up for an audition completing the google form provided below. Returning members are guaranteed placement in one of the ensembles, without having to audition, when their membership renewal form is completed. You will receive an email with the google form.

Members are expected to provide a personal or school instrument for rehearsal and performance use (percussion instruments provided). Some members will be required to purchase music books. Rehearsals take place on Sunday afternoons and are held at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Become A Member

learn more

Interview and sight reading. Bring your mallet bag if you have one.


Major scales: Bb, F, G, D and A. Chromatic scales.
You will be asked to sight read a short excerpt.

Winds & Brass

One or two major scales or your choice.


Prepare a two-minute piece of your choice that show your best playing.

All instruments

youth orchestra auditions

January 13, 2024 at 4pm 



There are three levels. Sparkling City, Sinfonietta and Symphony. The CCAYO is a level-based music program. The audition and musical skills will determine which ensemble is best for the student. Age or school grade does not determine in which ensemble the student will be placed.

What should my child wear for concerts?

When and where do we practice?

How do I know in what orchestra my child will be placed?

We rehearse in the Center for the Arts at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. The full orchestra rehearse on Monday nights from 7-9 PM. The other ensembles rehearse on Sundays afternoon from 1- 3:30 PM.

What should my child wear for concerts?

When and where do we practice?

How do I know in what orchestra my child will be placed?

Black pants and white blouse for girls and black pants and white dress shirt for boys. All black is also acceptable. No jeans, no tennis shoes.

What should my child wear for concerts?

When and where do we practice?

How do I know in what orchestra my child will be placed?

CCAYO Assistant Director Melissa Melendez is a member of the Islander String Trio at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (A&M-Corpus Christi), principal violist for the Victoria Symphony, principal violist for the Kingsville Symphony and member of the Corpus Christi Symphony. Melendez is also the Director of the Suzuki Program at the A&M-Corpus Christi Blanche Davis Moore Early Childhood Development Center.

Melendez has performed with the University of Arizona Symphony Orchestra as the 2004 winner of the President’s Competition held at the University of Arizona, in addition to the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi String Orchestra, the Kingsville Symphony and the Balcones Symphony in Austin. In 2012, Melendez was featured in the world premiere of Venezuelan composer Gonzalos Castellano’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra with the Carabobo Symphony in Venezuela.

Melendez holds a Bachelor’s in Music from Louisiana State University, a Master’s in Music from The Cleveland Institute of Music, an Artist Diploma from Duquesne University and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of Arizona.

Assistant Director

Dr. Jose Flores is a great advocate of orchestral music education, an accomplished professional musician and an experienced orchestral conductor. He is the Director of Orchestral Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and he has been professor of violin and viola at the university since 2006. Dr. Flores is on the faculty of Youth Classics Master Classes in Europe, where he teaches violin and viola and coaches chamber music ensembles. He serves as permanent guest faculty for the Academia Latino Americana de Violin (Latin-American Violin Academy). As one of the pioneer teachers in El Sistema, Dr. Flores taught in a program which today transforms the lives of more than 500,000 of Venezuela’s most vulnerable children by giving them the chance to excel as young musicians.

He enjoys a performance career spanning six countries including South Korea, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Venezuela and the United States. In 2012 he appeared at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital in a performance with Dragonov and Friends. Here in Corpus Christi, he is a violinist in the Corpus Christi Symphony Orchestra. In addition to many other solo and recital performances, he regularly performs as a chamber musician with the Islander String Players.

Dr. Flores holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Arizona. He also holds a Master of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the Aaron Copeland School of Music in New York. The 2016-17 season marks the eighth year Dr. Flores has served as Director of the Corpus Christi Area Youth Orchestra.


Dr. Jose Flores

Hover over each photo to learn more about the Youth Orchestra Directors.

Youth Orchestra Directors

Meet our

Melissa Melendez

Dr. Carrie Pierce is the Associate Professor of Cello at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Equally at home in chamber, orchestral, and solo settings, she brings her innate musicianship to every genre with a warm, resonant, all-encompassing sound. With an engaging musical personality, Carrie enjoys connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Dr. Pierce is the principal cellist of the Victoria Symphony in Victoria, Texas, and assistant principal of the Corpus Christi Symphony. She is also a founding member of Drumpetello, an innovative chamber ensemble composed of cello, percussion, and trumpet. Drumpetello has received over $50,000 in grant funds and has commissioned many new works by composers around the country.

As a teacher, Dr. Pierce is adept at teaching levels of cellists. Her students have received numerous accolades and awards, including winning spots in the prestigious NYO2 festival, first chairs in the UIL All-State orchestra (Texas), and first place in the San Antonio Youth Concerto competition, which included a concerto performance with the San Antonio Symphony. She is a Suzuki certified teacher and plans on pursuing her teacher trainer certificate with future plans of opening a Suzuki center at TAMUCC. When she is not teaching or playing she is spending time with her wonderful husband Jeff and newly added member of the family, her puppy Luka.

Cello choir conductor

carrie pierce


Play Your Part

Concerts & Ticketing


Community & Learning

Get Involved

CCAYO Sponsors

thank you to our

Mary & Charles Campbell
Texas Women for the Arts

thank you to our 2024-2025 season sponsor!

Stay up-to-date on our latest concerts, events, and promotions by signing up for our newsletter.

Sign up for our newsletter




Follow On Social media