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
January 18, 2017
Jazz Orchestra Winter Concert
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February 02, 2017
Concert Orchestra Education Concerts at Chicago Cultural Center
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February 03, 2017
Accelerando Strings Community 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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Brian Baxter Promoted to Chief Operating Officer

To further support the growth and vision of CYSO, the Board of Directors has promoted Director of Operations Brian Baxter to the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer. Baxter has been with CYSO since 2008 and currently oversees nearly 600 students in the organization’s on-site orchestra programs, as well as the organization’s Community Engagement Programs, which reach 2,500 students annually. …
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CYSO Announces Susan Lape as New Executive Director

As some of our supporters may know, for the past six months CYSO has been conducting a national search for our new Executive Director. As the nation’s premier youth orchestra, it was no surprise that we received applications from many talented and qualified leaders in arts administration. After careful consideration, we are pleased to share that the CYSO Board of Directors unanimously …
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Pharez Whitted Selected as Chicago Tribune “Chicagoan of the Year”

CYSO Director of Jazz Pharez Whitted was selected as one of the Chicago Tribune‘s Chicagoans of the Year. In the article by Howard Rheich, Whitted discusses the ups and downs he experienced in 2016, citing his new position at CYSO as one of the highlights. Speaking of the impressive commitment he’s already seen from the student musicians of CYSO’s new Jazz Orchestra, …
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Thank You for a Great 2016!

As the year comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that happened at CYSO over the past year. From new students to new orchestras, 2016 was full of big things, and none of it would have been possible without our amazing community of supporters. So thank YOU for a wonderful 2016, and here’s to an …
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