AVLSymphonyYOUTHOrchestra-Logo-HorizEmily Schaad, Music Director

“I remember going to hear the Asheville Symphony and I fell in love with it. That’s what made me take lessons.” —Lillian Chase, ASYO Chamber Orchestra

Youth Inspired Music

Hear the future of music today and watch the next generation of leaders take shape.

The Asheville Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) program serves more than 200 of the very best young musicians in the greater Asheville area. The program consists of four orchestras, in addition to woodwind, brass, percussion, and chamber music ensembles. ASYO musicians participate in masterclasses, retreats, workshops, tours and social events. They also receive superb music instruction from many of the region’s most respected professional conductors and musicians and have the opportunity to perform throughout the community.

Most importantly, whether students continue their music studies after high school or not, they leave us with a strong sense of discipline, increased confidence, and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.

The Youth Orchestra is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which supported in part by the Buncombe County and Asheville City School Systems but also depends on private and corporate donations.


  • Youth Orchestra and Philharmonia, Emily Schaad music director and conductor
  • Chamber Orchestra, Andrea Dennis, conductor
  • Prelude Orchestra, Amanda Tant, conductor

2017/2018 Concerts

  • Wednesday, November 1, 7 p.m., Diana Wortham Theatre
  • Sunday, February 25, 7 p.m., Thomas Wolfe Auditorium featuring Triton Brass
  • Tuesday, May 15, 7 p.m., Asheville High School Auditorium



Emily Schaad started her career on violin and viola, attending The Juilliard School and earning a B.M. in Viola Performance from Curtis Institute of Music. She holds an M.A. in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University and is a doctoral candidate in Music Education at Boston University.  Ms. Schaad is a founder and artistic director of Stringendo, Inc., a non-profit community music school in New York’s Hudson Valley comprised of 7 youth orchestras, 5 traditional fiddle groups, and a summer camp. During her tenure as a conductor with Stringendo, Ms. Schaad led annual student trips across the country and to the United Kingdom. Her ensembles have performed at music education conferences, competitions, evaluation festivals, and in schools, concert halls, and castles.

Ms. Schaad has taught elementary, middle, and high school strings in New York State and is a frequent guest conductor for all-county and regional festival orchestras. She has studied conducting with Donald Portnoy and David Rudge, and participated as a fellow in Conductors Institutes at University of South Carolina, Bard College, and Conducting Masterclasses of London.  Emily is also a seasoned old-time musician, and has spent time learning from older fiddlers in Tennessee and North Carolina. She has taken first place in fiddle and old-time band at numerous fiddlers conventions, and released an album in 2013 with Americana stringband Old Buck. She regularly teaches at traditional music weeks such as Swannanoa Gathering and Augusta Heritage Center, and teaches old-time fiddle at Warren Wilson College.  Ms. Schaad relocated to Asheville in 2015. In addition to ASYO, she conducts the Greenville County Youth Orchestra’s Philharmonic and Young Artists Orchestras, teaches violin and viola, and performs as a violist with Asheville and Greenville Symphonies.


Oboist Cara Mia Jenkins made her eastern descent from California to North Carolina in 2005 where she was appointed oboist with both the Asheville Symphony and the Asheville Lyric Opera. As an oboist, Ms. Jenkins performs regularly throughout the southeast with various orchestras and chamber music festivals.  As an educator, she has devoted much of her time and teaching and developing young musicians by serving on the faculty at Mars Hill University, University of North Carolina at Asheville and maintaining a busy teaching studio.  She has been a featured clinician at the North Carolina Music Educator’s Association and currently serves  as the Educational Coordinator of the ASO.

Prior to her present positions, Ms. Jenkins was on the adjunct faculty at University of North Texas while maintaining and active freelancing and teaching career in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  She previously served as the principal oboist of both the Camerada Chamber Winds in Dallas and the Reno Opera Orchestra.  She earned at Bachelor’s in Music Education from the University of Nevada and Masters in Oboe Performance from University of North Texas. She currently resides with her husband and two daughters in Asheville, NC.


Brian Garland grew up in Western North Carolina playing trumpet with marching bands and drum corps. In 2012 after completing his undergraduate degree in trumpet performance at North Carolina School of the Arts, he moved to Boston and studied at the Boston Conservatory where he earned a Master of Music degree. Since returning to Asheville, Mr. Garland has focused on educating students in orchestral studies and brass chamber music. He performs regularly with the Asheville Symphony as well as other orchestras in the Western North Carolina region.  In addition to Brian’s new role as operations manager and brass coach for the ASYO, he is also the studio manager for Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance.


Amanda Tant resides in Asheville and is the orchestra and chorus director at Hendersonville Middle and Hendersonville High schools. Amanda attended Appalachian State University as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. She received a Bachelor of Arts in music education with a concentration in instrumental music education. In 2013, Amanda received a full assistantship to attend graduate school at Appalachian State where she began a masters in Viola Performance. Amanda also served as the violist in the Hayes String Quartet, an endowed graduate ensemble. She is currently in the process of completing her masters degree while balancing a full schedule of teaching and performing with the Cafe String Quartet. In her downtime, Amanda enjoys  hiking with her dog, Khyber, and husband, Nathaniel Habel.

Jason Posnock, ASYO ADVISOR

Violinist Jason Posnock enjoys a versatile musical career both in the United States and internationally. He has performed regularly in such prominent American ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and has accompanied them on tours to Europe, South America, the Far East and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Mr. Posnock is also an active chamber musician and recitalist, having appeared in venues throughout the United States, England, Puerto Rico, and India.  Concertmaster of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra since 2007, Mr. Posnock has previously held the positions of Concertmaster of the Clarksburg (WV) Symphony Orchestra and Concertmaster of the McKeesport (PA) Symphony Orchestra. He has often been invited to perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony, as well as serve as Guest Concertmaster of ensembles such as the Bangor, Roanoke, Erie, Westmoreland, and Altoona Symphony Orchestras.

In addition to his performance schedule, Mr. Posnock has devoted much of his time to teaching and working with young musicians, serving on the faculty of the Brevard Music Center, as Artist Lecturer in Violin at Carnegie Mellon University, conductor of the Intrada Strings preparatory orchestra, and maintaining a busy teaching studio.  Presently Mr. Posnock resides with his family in Brevard, NC, serves on the faculty of Brevard College, and is the Director of Artistic Planning & Educational Programs at the Brevard Music Center.