LDYE's mission is to enable talented elementary and secondary school musicians from rural Central New York and the Southern Tier to develop their full potential as orchestral performers by providing them with the opportunity to rehearse and perform under the guidance of experienced professional performers and music educators.



  • read music fluently

  • play at least a level 2 NYSSMA solo piece (or comparable piece)

  • play a scale that spans at least 2 octaves (3 octaves preferable)


LDYE is a teaching ensemble for string musicians from ages 6 to 18. Students aged 6 to 12 with less experience on the instrument may join the LDYE Preparatory Orchestra. Admission to LDYE is based on an audition, usually administered in June (please see here for dates). Please submit an audition application in advance of the audition. 

audition application (electronic form)

audition application (print version)


  • play a solo piece that demonstrates proficiency equivalent to the last 3 pieces of Suzuki Book 1

  • sight read a short melody in D Major or G Major and a rhythm comprises of half, quarter and eighth notes

  • for violinists, play a 2-octave scale in G Major or C Major

  • for violists and cellists, play a 2-octave scale in C Major



After a national search the board of directors of the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble enthusiastically announced the appointment of violinist Uli Speth to the position of conductor and music director beginning June of 2015.Uli is already known locally in his roles as violin instructor at Hartwick College, concertmaster of the Binghamton Philharmonic and regular performer in ensembles throughout the region. German born and a resident of Mount Vernon, NY, Uli has been teaching violin and conducting in our area for more than five years.


LDYE offers a “one-room-schoolhouse” approach to music education in which student musicians not only master their instruments, but also learn the teamwork and collaboration that are fundamental to the ensemble experience.  LDYE’s older and more experienced musicians serve as mentors and role models for younger players, offering peer guidance and support.  The younger musicians in turn benefit from this interaction with their more experienced peers, which motivates them to aspire to higher levels of musicianship and participation.  In addition to teaching mastery in performance, LDYE encourages students to develop their composition skills, and students are invited to submit original compositions for performance by the ensemble.


Debrah Devine began conducting LDYE's Preparatory Orchestra in the fall of 2016. She studied Violin Performance at SUNY Fredonia and CUNY Brooklyn College with Cornelius Dufallo and Liang Chai. Debrah has a diverse and active freelance career. As an in-demand violin and viola teacher in the area, she has been teaching strings in Upstate NY for 14 years. She maintains private teaching studios in Norwich, Oneonta and Mt. Vision and has a combined 35-40 students in her studio. She is delighted to work with the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble's Preparatory Orchestra.



Julie Signitzer

Julie Signitzer

The Little Delaware Youth Ensemble was established in 2000 by former music director Julie Signitzer, Deanna Palumbo and a dedicated group of parents who shared the goal of creating an institution where promising young string players could come together to learn and grow as musicians and to gain ensemble experience unavailable elsewhere in their home area in rural central New York.  From its modest beginning with fewer than 15 families, LDYE has more than doubled in size over the past 15 years.  In 2013 a Preparatory Orchestra was initiated that nurtures the talents of student musicians from four counties in central New York.  Because most local schools in the area do not offer string programs, LDYE is the only ensemble experience available for these talented young musicians.  The groups rehearse in Oneonta one evening each week and perform four public concerts annually.
Founding music Director, Julie Signitzer retired from LDYE after the 2014/2015 season.  She recently expressed her desires for the future of LDYE upon the appointment of a new music director when she said:

"Sustaining a regional youth ensemble is a collaborative effort between the teachers, the families and the community.  It is our responsibility to support the financial stability of this little orchestra which, in my opinon, greatly enhances life in this corner of Upstate New York"