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.

Latest Media
Upcoming Shows & Events
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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November 13, 2016
Symphony Orchestra 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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Meet the Conductor: Pharez Whitted, Jazz Orchestra Director

Pharez Whitted is a renowned jazz musician, bandleader, and educator, and now the newest member of CYSO’s Artistic Staff. As Jazz Orchestra Director, Whitted leads high school-age musicians who perform works from the full spectrum of jazz compositions, from classic big band swing charts to new pieces incorporating current and emerging styles. Upon the announcement of the new Jazz Orchestra, Whitted said that he hopes …
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CYSO Celebrates 70th Anniversary Season

The 2016-2017 season marks CYSO’s 70th anniversary. Founded in 1946 by a group of parents and students, CYSO has spent the past seven decades providing orchestral training to youth from across the Chicago region. Our programs have come a long way over the past 70 years, but what remains the same is CYSO’s commitment to inspire and cultivate personal excellence …
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Labor Day Retreat Kicks Off Symphony Orchestra’s Season

More than 120 students attended CYSO’s annual Symphony Orchestra Retreat over the weekend, joining Maestro Tinkham and members of the CYSO staff in Woodstock, IL at the Loyola University Retreat & Ecology Campus. The weekend was the musicians’ first opportunity to perform the fall repertoire as a full orchestra, which includes Newman’s Blow It Up, Start Again, Elgar’s In the South, and Respighi’s Feste romane. Students had …
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Printable Season Calendar

We can hardly contain our excitement at all the amazing things coming up for CYSO’s 70th anniversary season! From world premieres to big time performances to new ensembles and new venues, the next 10 months are bursting with exciting events and performances by CYSO musicians. Make sure you’re in the know all season long by downloading your very own printable season calendar now! …
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