CYSO’S MISSION IS TO INSPIRE AND CULTIVATE PERSONAL EXCELLENCE THROUGH MUSIC.
CYSO is investing in the future of music and the next generation of leaders. We provide music education to more than 650 young musicians ages 6-18 through full and string orchestras, jazz, steel, chamber music, masterclasses, and music composition. Students learn from Chicago’s most respected professional musicians, perform in the world’s great concert halls, and gain skills necessary for a successful future.
CYSO Community Partnership Programs support music training and access for more than 8,500 young people each year. We work with youth in diverse Chicago neighborhoods through after-school ensembles and our Ambassadors Program, which brings student musicians into CPS elementary schools to perform interactive concerts. CYSO orchestras also present free community and education concerts throughout the season.
CYSO alumni go on to play in the world’s finest orchestras and ensembles, and are also found working as doctors, lawyers, teachers, community leaders, and business professionals. Whether or not a graduate continues music studies after their time in CYSO, young people leave with increased self-confidence, a strong sense of discipline, and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.
CYSO was founded in 1946 by a group of students who, energized by a summer music camp, wanted to explore music closer to home throughout the school year. They first met on Saturday mornings at the Wurlitzer Music Store on South Wabash Avenue, and in November 1947, 100 young musicians held the first performance at Orchestra Hall, featuring a program of Frescobaldi, Beethoven, MacDowell, and Kodaly. In 1960, CYSO moved to our current home in the historic Fine Arts Building, a center for arts and culture since 1898. Over the past 70 years, CYSO has earned local and national awards, partnered with some of the most prestigious artists and organizations, and continues the legacy of musicianship on which the organization was founded.
Staff and Board
CYSO’s staff, faculty and board members represents a diverse array of talents and skills in music education.
CYSO administrative offices are located in Suite 833 of the Fine Arts Building at 410 S. Michigan Avenue on Chicago’s Cultural Mile. Rehearsals, auditions, and some performances take place in the Fine Arts Building, with premier performances held at prestigious venues across the Chicago region, including Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall. Plan your visit to CYSO.