Auditions for the 2010-2011 season of the USM Youth Ensembles program at the University of Southern Maine will be held this month at Corthell Hall. Students who will be high school seniors or younger in 2010-2011 are eligible to audition.

Audition reservations must be made online from the “Schedule Now” link at usm.maine.edu/music/youthensembles/auditions.html. For more information, send e-mail to marshunda.smith@maine.edu. Audition dates are May 26, 27 and 28 for strings; May 26 for flute, oboe and bassoon; May 28 for brass and percussion; and May 27 for clarinet, saxophone, piano and harp.

Students chosen for the program will rehearse Wednesday evenings and perform twice a year in Merrill Auditorium, Portland, as part of one or two of the following ensembles — The Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, The Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, The Portland Youth Junior Orchestra and the Portland Young Peoples’ String Consort.

The USM Youth Ensembles program, planning its 14th season, is dedicated to fostering the highest levels of artistic expression among the participants. As arts and music budgets in the state’s schools continue to face reductions, the USM Youth Ensembles become increasingly important as a valuable public service in the southern half of Maine and southern New Hampshire, both in support of school music programs and as an opportunity for students who do not have school music programs.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.