by Allan Kozinn
Since 1963 the New York Youth Symphony has given musicians aged 12 to 22 experience playing in an orchestra, and these days its 240 participants also study composition, conducting, chamber music and jazz. It may not have the grand reach of the Venezuelan Sistema, which has lately given the musical world the conductor Gustavo Dudamel. But with a $1 million scholarship program, its contribution to musical training is important.
The program also fields a fine ensemble. On Sunday afternoon at Carnegie Hall, Vince Lee, the orchestra's assistant conductor, opened its second concert of the season with a powerful, hefty account of Brahms's ''Academic Festival'' Overture before turning over the podium to Ryan McAdams, who became music director in December.
Mr. McAdams led his charges, augmented by the Brooklyn Technical High School Chamber Chorus and Kate Lindsey, a mezzo-soprano, into the thorny world of Ives. He elicited a perfectly eerie, mysterious string sound in ''Central Park in the Dark'' and more of the same, enhanced by a melancholy trumpet line and dissonant brasses, in ''The Unanswered Question.''
Ms. Lindsey brought an attractive timbre and a communicative sense of line to three Ives songs, but she was at her best in the latest of the orchestra's growing collection of commissions, Jacob Bancks's ''... among the leaves ...'' (2007), a colorfully orchestrated, invitingly lyrical setting of a Joyce fragment (from ''A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'').
Mr. McAdams closed the program with an energetic, rhythmically flexible performance of Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from ''West Side Story.''
The next New York Youth Symphony concert at Carnegie Hall is on May 25; (212) 247-7800 or carnegiehall.org.