CYSO Youth Symphony Chicago
About CYSO

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras has provided music education through orchestral programs and performance opportunities of the highest caliber since 1946.

CYSO serves more than 500 students ages 6-18 through four full orchestras, three string orchestras, multiple steel orchestras, and supplemental programs including chamber music ensembles, music theory, and composition. CYSO musicians receive superb orchestral and chamber music instruction from Chicago’s most respected professional musicians, perform in the world’s greatest concert halls, and gain the self-confidence and discipline necessary for a successful future.

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Upcoming Shows & Events
September 22, 2016
Masterclass Series: Getting Into College 101
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October 05, 2016
Symphony Orchestra Performance at Ear Taxi Festival
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November 06, 2016
Philharmonic Orchestra Fall Concert
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Discover Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras


CYSO serves more than 500 students ages 6-18 through four string orchestras, three string orchestras, steel orchestras, and supplemental programs. Musicians receive superb instruction and gain the skills necessary for a successful future.

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CYSO auditions are open to students who will be high school seniors or younger. Auditions for the upcoming season happen each spring. Tuition assistance is available for all programs for families with financial need.

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The best way to experience CYSO is to attend an event! From our annual fundraising gala, free community concerts, performances at Symphony Center’s venerable Orchestra Hall, we offer something for everyone.

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CYSO alumni play in the world’s finest orchestras and ensembles, as well many other respected professions. Regardless of whether they pursues further music studies, CYSO students leave with skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

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Executive Director Joshua Simonds’ Top 5 Moments with CYSO

Today is Executive Director Joshua Simonds’ last day with CYSO. After a total of 12 seasons, first as General Manager and then as Executive Director, Joshua sat down to share the top five moments he’ll remember most from his time at CYSO. It’s been quite a ride since 2003! We thank Joshua for all he’s done for CYSO and wish …
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CYSO Jazz Orchestra Director Pharez Whitted Profiled in Chicago Tribune

CYSO’s new Jazz Orchestra Director, Pharez Whitted, is not only a respected music educator, he’s also a gifted musician and bandleader in his own right. Whitted was recently profiled by the Chicago Tribune about his new role at CYSO, some of his collaborators, and upcoming performances. “Few Chicago musician-educators are more qualified than Whitted to build the new band, for he commands a …
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CYSO Featured in Symphony Magazine

The latest issue of League of American Orchestras’ Symphony Magazine features a cover story about how orchestras across the country are building alliances with local governments to support a vibrant arts scene. With interviews with orchestra administrators across the country, CYSO Executive Director Joshua Simonds shared his thoughts on the power orchestra constituents have in being advocates for the arts.   “Orchestras’ educational work can …
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CYSO Announces New Jazz Orchestra

For 70 years, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras has been a leader in classical music training and education for young musicians across the Chicago region. This fall, CYSO will expand its offerings with the creation of its new Jazz Orchestra led by renowned Chicago musician and educator Pharez Whitted. CYSO’s jazz program will build on Chicago’s rich history as a center …
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