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Open House 2022

February 12 February 13

As we head into CYSO’s audition season, Open House gives prospective families a look at what it’s like to be a member of one of our ensembles. Open House is a great way to get to know the programs we offer, see our conductors at work, and find out what makes CYSO so special. While we won’t be opening our spaces to a traditional open house format this season, there are still plenty of opportunities to get a sneak peek at what it’s like to be part of a CYSO rehearsal, and more!

With the health and safety of everyone in mind, rehearsals will not be open for drop ins during Open House weekend. The only in-person opportunities are rehearsal sit-ins for students who pre-register using the link below. Other students and families are invited to watch rehearsal videos from each of our ensembles, which will go live on this page on February 12 and remain up through the spring to view.

In-Person Sit-In Opportunities

Sit-in opportunities take place throughout the day on Saturday, February 12. Sit-ins include a 30 minute introductory session led by CYSO staff to ensure that students know what’s expected of them during the rehearsal session. Please note: students must be pre-registered and receive a confirmation email before attending a rehearsal sit-in. Space is limited!

Debut Orchestra
Level: Middle grades
Instruments: Winds, brass, percussion, strings
Time: 10:30 AM -12:00 PM

Prep Strings
Level: Upper elementary
Instrument: Strings (violin, viola, cello, bass)
Time: 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Concert Orchestra
Level: High school
Instruments: Winds, brass, percussion, strings
Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Accelerando Strings
Level: High School
Instrument: Strings (violin, viola, cello, bass)
Time: 1:30 – 3:00 PM

Audition Tips

For our 2021 Virtual Open House, Music Director Allen Tinkham spoke with Karen Mari, Community & Family Engagement Coordinator, to share insights about the CYSO audition process. Though recorded last year, the tips and tricks for making a great audition video, what the judges are looking for, and what to play at your audition are definitely still relevant!

Ready to audition for CYSO? Click here to sign up!

Rehearsal Videos

Overture Strings

Led by Anne Huynh McTighe, under the direction of Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez, Overture Strings provides entry level string orchestra training to our youngest elementary school aged student musicians.

Preparatory Strings

Led by Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez and supported by Assistant Director of String Ensembles Anne Huynh McTighe, Preparatory Strings provides string orchestra training to predominantly elementary school-aged students who read music and have at least two years of playing experience on their instruments.

Groove Steel Ensemble

Led by Director of Steel Orchestras Scott McConnell and supported by Teaching Assistant Jaron Woodsley, Groove Steel is our beginner steelpan ensemble, made up primarily of upper elementary and middle school students with little or no prior music experience. Groove Steel introduces students to music notation throughout the semester.

Debut Orchestra

Led by conductor Dana Green and supported by Winds & Brass Coach Abby Black, Debut Orchestra provides predominantly middle school-aged student musicians with their first exposure to high level full orchestra training. 

Junior Steel Orchestra

Led by Director of Steel Orchestras Scott McConnell and supported by Teaching Assistant Jaron Woodsley, Junior Steel is designed for students in grades 4-8 or students with an intermediate level of music knowledge. Students develop
their interpretation of notated music throughout the semester with focus on syncopated rhythms.

Concert Orchestra

Led by conductor Michael Mascari and supported by Teaching Assistant Laura Yawney, Concert Orchestra provides advanced orchestral training to predominantly high school musicians. Concert Orchestra students have the opportunity to perform advanced orchestral repertoire and new works by contemporary composers.

Accelerando Strings

Under the direction of CYSO Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez,  Accelerando Strings provides string orchestra training to high school musicians. Accelerando Strings’ season includes weekly rehearsals that focus on technique, string repertoire, musicianship, and presentation skills.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Led by Associate Conductor Terrance Malone Gray and supported by Assistant Conductor Benjamin Firer, Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of talented student musicians and provides an advanced orchestral experience including exclusive training opportunities including sectionals and coaching from professional musicians, a concerto competition, and multiple performance opportunities in some of the area’s most renowned venues.

Jazz Orchestra

Led by Director of Jazz Pharez Whitted, CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra builds on Chicago’s rich history as a center of jazz music creation and innovation and is dedicated to the study and performance of classic and contemporary big band jazz music. Made up of 25 high school-age musicians, the ensemble performs everything from classic big band swing charts steeped in jazz tradition to new works incorporating current and emerging styles.

Kaiso Steel Orchestra

Led by Director of Steel Orchestras Scott McConnell and supported by Teaching Assistant Jaron Woodsley, Kaiso is our only audition-based Steel ensemble. Designed for high school-age students, Kaiso students study calypso, the traditional music of Trinidad and Tobago where the steelpan emerged, as well as music from all genres, including classical, pop, and folk.

Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as one of the foremost youth ensembles. Under the direction of Music Director Allen Tinkham and supported by Assistant Conductor Steven Gooden, Symphony Orchestra students have the opportunity to hone their skills while performing the most advanced orchestral repertoire alongside exciting new works by contemporary composers.


Ready to audition to CYSO?

Auditions for our orchestras, jazz, and steel programs are open now—sign up for your chance to join us!

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