2023 Student & Teacher Award Winners

Each year, CYSO presents awards to two stand-out students who have demonstrated exemplary dedication to CYSO and a drive for personal excellence. We also recognize a music educator who has gone above and beyond, as nominated by one of their students. Read on to get to know our 2023 award winners, and join us at CYSO’s spring Orchestra Hall concert on May 21 to watch the awards presentation.


The Mollendorf Award is given to a graduating CYSO senior to support further musical study. It is given through an endowment fund by the late Jean Mollendorf, Founder and Past President of the CYSO Board of Directors. 


Zachary Allen, 18, is a senior at Niles West High School and a fellow of the Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative. He is currently a merit scholarship recipient at the Music Institute of Chicago where he has studied with Erica Anderson for five years.

Zachary has been a member of CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra for four years, and served as co-principal oboe for three years. In addition to playing in Symphony Orchestra, Zachary has been involved in several other CYSO programs including the Ambassadors Program, Chamber Music, and the CORE chamber orchestra. He also performed as principal oboe on CYSO’s 2022 tour of Berlin, Leipzig, Prague, and Vienna. Zachary has represented CYSO on WFMT’s Introductions both as a member of Symphony Orchestra and the Jubilee Woodwind Quintet.

Zachary volunteers with several local and international arts related nonprofit organizations. He gives private online oboe lessons through The Do Re Mi Project, he is a Music as Service volunteer with the Music Institute of Chicago, and serves on the Urban Gateways Teen Advisory Council.

This fall, Zachary will be attending Oberlin College & Conservatory to study oboe performance with Robert Walters.


The Albert Pick III Award is given to a well-rounded individual to be used to keep music as a creative and joyful part of the recipient’s life. This award is inspired by the memory of Albert Pick III for his love of the students of CYSO and passionate commitment of service to his community.


Gloria Baek, a senior at Naperville North High School, started playing the violin when she was 5 years old and has been a part of CYSO for 7 years. She has spent 4 of those years in Symphony Orchestra, where she currently serves as second violin co-principal, and she has made many unforgettable memories during her time in CYSO. Beyond CYSO, Gloria enjoys sharing classical music with her community through her chapter of the nonprofit Our Songs Project, competing as a congressional debater, and serving as editor-in-chief of her school yearbook. After high school, Gloria plans on attending Yale University, where she hopes to study public health on the pre-law track and continue bringing her love of music to others by joining the Yale Symphony Orchestra.


The Music Inspiration Award is give to an individual who inspires and encourages the students of CYSO. It is typically awarded to private teachers or music program directors.


Since 2017, Steve Govertsen has been the Orchestra Director at Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn. Since 2021, he has also served as Fine Arts Department Chair.   Prior to that, he taught band and orchestra at West Chicago Community High School in West Chicago, and started his career for one year at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park. A Glen Ellyn resident, Mr. Govertsen attended Glenbard South and College of DuPage. He holds degrees from Northern Illinois University, VanderCook College of Music, and a Teacher Leader endorsement through National Louis University.

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