CYSO Celebrates 70th Anniversary Season

The 2016-2017 season marks CYSO’s 70th anniversary. Founded in 1946 by a group of parents and students, CYSO has spent the past seven decades providing orchestral training to youth from across the Chicago region. Our programs have come a long way over the past 70 years, but what remains the same is CYSO’s commitment to inspire and cultivate personal excellence through the study and performance of music.

Every CYSO season is full of exciting events, but we’re pulling out all the stops in honor of the 70th anniversary! Check out some of the highlights coming up for the 2016-2017 season:

New Orchestras

New Director of Jazz, Pharez Whitted

Two new CYSO ensembles debut this season: Jazz Orchestra and Philharmonic Orchestra. The new jazz program is led by renowned Chicago musician and educator Pharez Whitted, and will train high school-age musicians in both classic and contemporary jazz styles.
More on the new Jazz program.

Philharmonic Orchestra, another new ensemble debuting this season, is led by long-time CYSO Associate Conductor Terrance Gray. Philharmonic is an advanced full orchestra made up of more than 90 high school students and will debut a new piece by CYSO Composer-in-Residence Jonathan Newman at the November 6 performance at Logan Center for the Arts.

Tour of Central Europe

In June, CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra will embark on a concert tour of Central Europe. Students will perform at world-class concert halls in three of Europe’s most beautiful and historic cities: Prague, Budapest, and Belgrade. More on CYSO’s Tour of Central Europe.


CYSO 2016-2017 Composers-in-Residence Glenn Kotche and Jonathan NewmanCYSO has enlisted two composers-in-residence for the 2016-2017 season: Glenn Kotche and Jonathan Newman. Newman, who serves as Director of Composition & Coordinator of New Music at the Shenandoah Conservatory, focuses on the first half of the season, with the debut of a piece for the Philharmonic Orchestra on November 6. In addition, Symphony Orchestra will perform Newman’s Blow It Up, Start Again, commissioned by CYSO in 2011, at Ear Taxi Festival on October 5 and at the fall Orchestra Hall concert on November 20. Newman’s 3 O’Clock Mix will also be part of CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra performance at Midwest Clinic on December 16.

Glenn Kotche, drummer for the Chicago-based band Wilco, will join CYSO on stage at Orchestra Hall on May 21 for the performance of a new piece commissioned for Symphony Orchestra. Kotche will also arrange his solo percussion work, Mobile, for Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert June 3, and will join CYSO for a composition workshop and rehearsals. More on this season’s composers-in-residence.

Ear Taxi Festival + Midwest Clinic

Symphony Orchestra will perform at two high-profile events this fall: Ear Taxi Festival on October 5 and Midwest Clinic on December 16. CYSO is featured on opening night of the inaugural Ear Taxi Festival, celebrating contemporary music in Chicago. The performance takes place at Harris Theater in a triple-bill with Fulcrum Point New Music Project and Civic Orchestra of Chicago.

In December, CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra will perform at Midwest Clinic, the world’s largest instrumental music education conference, which draws band and orchestra professionals from around the region. The showcase will feature highlights from Symphony Orchestra’s fall repertoire including Elgar’s In the South,  Jonathan Newman’s 3 O’Clock Mix, and the CYSO-commissioned Prairie Music by Eric Malmquist.


Neighborhood Steel Ensembles

1_022CYSO’s on-site steel band program continue to grow, and this season we’ve expanded our Community Engagement initiatives to include two Neighborhood Steel Band programs in underserved neighborhoods of Chicago. Located at Roberto Clemente High School in Humboldt Park and Hermosa’s Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, these after-school steelpan ensembles are expected to reach 120 students this year.

70th Anniversary Gala

CYSO’s 70th Anniversary Celebration will take place February 11 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Featuring the music of James Bond, the annual gala will include performances by CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra, Preparatory Strings, and Steel Orchestras with all proceeds from the event supporting CYSO’s music education programs.

New Artistic Staff

New CYSO Artistic Staff: Michael Mascari, Concert Orchestra Conductor, and Dana Green, Debut Orchestra ConductorIn addition to new Jazz Orchestra Director, Pharez Whitted, two other artistic staff members joined CYSO this season: Concert Orchestra is now under the direction of Michael Mascari, Director of Orchestras at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, and Dana Green, Director of Orchestras at Vernon Hills High School, now leads the Debut Orchestra.


Orchestra Hall Concerts

Our premier events each season, CYSO’s Orchestra Hall performances will take place November 20 and May 21. The fall program includes works by Newman, Glazunov, Elgar, and Respighi, and the Spring concert will feature Tchaikovsky and Glenn Kotche performing a commissioned piece alongside Symphony Orchestra performers (see full description above).

Double Double Workshop

Allison Gaines, conductor at the College of DuPage and bass instructor, works with bass students. Last season’s popular Double Double Workshop returns this December. Celebrating double reeds and the double bass, the event features professional musicians from around the Chicago region and includes masterclasses, an orchestral excerpt competition, and more. Double Double is open to all students (including non-CYSO members) ages 10-18. More info on Double Double.



It’s going to be a great season! Stay in the loop by downloading our season calendar or signing up for the CYSO newsletter. We’ll see you at a concert soon!

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