About CYSO


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

We currently serve more than 600 students ages 6-18 in on-site ensembles including four full orchestras, three string orchestras, jazz orchestra, multiple steel orchestras, and enrichment opportunities including chamber music, masterclasses, and music composition. CYSO musicians learn from Chicago’s most respected professional musicians, perform in the world’s great concert halls, and gain the self-confidence and discipline necessary for a successful future.

CYSO Community Partnership Programs will support instrumental music training and music access for approximately 8,500 young people during the 2017-2018 season. We work with students in underserved neighborhoods through our Ambassador Program and after-school ensembles, present free community and education concerts, and partner with institutions including Chicago Public Schools and The People’s Music School.

CYSO alumni go on to play in the world’s finest orchestras and ensembles, and are also found working as teachers, community leaders, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Whether or not a graduate continues musical studies after their time in CYSO, students leave with a strong sense of discipline, increased self-confidence, and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.

CYSO is investing in the future of music and the next generation of leaders. 


CYSO History

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.

Notable Alumni

Staff and Board

CYSO’s staff, faculty and board members represents a diverse array of talents and skills in music education.

Learn more about the CYSO team

Visiting CYSO

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.

Contact CYSO

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 833  |  Chicago, IL 60605
Contact CYSO

To get in touch with a specific staff member or department, please see our Staff & Board listing.

Office hours: 9 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday
Please note that Operations staff are not in the office on Mondays.