Sunday belongs to the gifted musical teens of the area when the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras program presents its winter concert in the grand hall of the Music Center at Strathmore. The two programs, "Classical Joy" and "A Daring Duo," will be performed in the afternoon and evening, respectively.

"These are gifted musicians and when people come to the concerts, they will hear really good repertoire," said Cheryl Jukes, executive director of MCYO. "It's like seeing a professional orchestra for half the price!"

To begin, the MCYO is not a school. It is an orchestra program currently consisting of 500 students from D.C. and the surrounding area. Each year, students are accepted after auditioning. Then, as the season begins, they meet every Wednesday evening to rehearse the repertoire at hand. Divided into various ages and levels of playing, each MCYO group, from the Young Artists to the Philharmonic, has its own conductor.

It is the highest level of performers, the oldest students of the Philharmonic, along with the Chamber Orchestra, that offer a challenging and diverse program. Their repertoire, under the baton of Kristofer Sanz, consists of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E Flat Major for Violin, Viola and Orchestra, K. 364, Mahler's "Totenfeier" from Symphony No. 2 and Tan Dun's "Internet Symphony, No. 1 'Eroica.' " Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Jonathan Carney, artistic director of MCYO, joins National Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, Nurit Bar-Josef, and guest artist in the ambitious program.

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras: 'Classical Joy' and 'A Daring Duo'
Where: The Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda
When: 3 and 7 p.m. Sunday
Info: $20 to $22; 301-581-5200;

Founded in 1946, MYCO maintains a vibrant orchestral program for talented youth, while creating a seamless connection between the artist and the educational experience.

"Kids pay tuition per season, and we get funding from public sources, [such as] the local Montgomery County Arts Commission," Jukes explained. "We also get Maryland art funding and private foundations funding. If [students] can't pay and they are really good players, we provide scholarships."

Additionally, select MCYO musicians participate in the NSO's Youth Fellowship Program, where they take master classes. MCYO musicians have also performed in connection with the NSO's Summer Music Institute.

And where the Winter Concert is concerned, Cheryl Jukes says enthusiastically, "Come out [Sunday] and take a look at us and see how good these kids can be."