CYSO Captures Mischief, Myth, and Magic at Orchestra Hall

Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra took the stage at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall on Sunday, May 19, for their last concert of the 2023/2024 season. Students delivered a spellbinding finale to their season at Orchestra Hall, enchanting the audience and taking them one a journey through mischief, myth, and magic in their musical storytelling.

The concert opened with remarks from Executive Director Jennie Oh Brown, who thanked the crowd for their support and acknowledged the many alumni in the audience. She acknowledged the six winners of the Young Arts Award from CYSO and congratulated our students on their excellence, and shared the news of CYSO Director of Chamber Music, Donald DeRoche’s retirement, who has been with CYSO for almost 17 years.

Philharmonic Orchestra opened the show under the baton of conductor Kenny Lee. They performed excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, with its epic and foreboding melody and erratic percussion, switching from intense moments to somber notes seamlessly.

Executive Director Jennie Oh Brown then presented this year’s CYSO awards to the student winners. The Albert Pick III Award was given to graduating senior Fara Cage from Kaiso Steel Orchestra for her efforts in keeping music as a constant creative and joyful part of her life. The Mollendorf Award was given to graduating senior Joshua Wolford to support his future studies in music and mathematics at Princeton University. The Music Inspiration Award was presented to Tanya Carey, nominated by Symphony Orchestra cellist Gabriel Raviv. Raviv gave a touching speech about Dr. Carey’s devotion to students and music, as well as her advice to always tell stories using one’s instrument.

Following the awards presentation, Symphony Orchestra performed Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop’s Pandora Undone, a piece based on the famous greek mythology of Pandora opening up the forbidden box, releasing evils — and hope — into the world. The performance captured both thunderous chaos and fleeting moments of lightness in between. The piece was highlighted by the airy notes of the flute, juxtaposed on top of the tumultuous strings and horn sections.

Symphony Orchestra then welcomed soloist Aiden Yu on stage for the challenging Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1. Audiences were astounded the theatrical melodies and virtuoso passages in the piece. Among dramatic pauses of the orchestra, audiences heard Aiden’s dextrous playing during the cadenzas with expressive, dancing tunes of the double-stopped harmonics on the violin.

After intermission, students first embarked on Strauss’ Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Audiences enjoyed the playful melodies, sudden shifts in tempo, and intricate orchestration that showcased the talents of our students. Then, the biggest moment of the evening — Stravinsky’s famous Petrushka brought a close to the night. Maestro Tinkham led the orchestra through the ballet’s epic movements throughout the hour, portraying contrasting moments of light and darkness, evoking a range of emotions from mischief, joy, despair, and hope. The ballet features a dazzling array of rhythms and textures, with syncopated melodies, bold brass, and percussive accents creating a vivid tapestry of sound. Our students concluded their performance in triumph, eliciting a massive standing ovation from the crowd.

Thank you to everyone who cheered on our students both in person and from afar on the livestream. See all photos from the performance here.

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