Our story began in 1946 with a group of high school students and a shared passion to make music together. Energized by a summer music camp, they wanted to explore music throughout the school year and closer to home. Then called the Youth Orchestra of Greater Chicago, the organization they created grew from those founding members to a 113-member orchestra made up of students from across Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
Committed to Empowering Students
The leadership, teamwork, and creativity of those founding musicians are still present in CYSO young musicians and alumni today. Over the past 75 years, CYSO has grown into an organization that not only cultivates young musicians’ love for music, but shapes future leaders, fosters compassion for others, and offers a community of support and excellence that is unparalleled among the nation’s youth orchestras. With more than 12 ensembles and home to hundreds of Chicagoland’s most dedicated young musicians, CYSO remains committed to encouraging, educating, and empowering every student so that they may achieve their fullest potential, both on and off the stage.
CYSO is more than music. We play an important role in the community by bringing together promising young musicians from diverse backgrounds. CYSO creates an environment that promotes learning, collaboration, musical, and personal growth.
CYSO maintains a community of alumni who continue to inspire and cultivate personal excellence through all walks of life. From top orchestras, to board rooms, to classrooms, CYSO alumni take the skills they learn with us as they continue to change the world.
For more than 75 years, CYSO has strived to maintain a supportive, welcoming, and challenging community for each of our musicians. The future of music is music education, and by expanding opportunities for students, reimagining accessibility, and creating sustainable pathways to excellence, we are building a better future for CYSO today.