Former CYSO intern Carlos León Garcia epitomizes the word “hustle.” After playing in Symphony Orchestra his senior year of high school, Carlos stayed on as an Operations Intern the summer after he graduated. His enthusiasm and dedication were always apparent during Carlos’ tenure in CYSO, and still is today.
Carlos recently stopped by the administrative office to catch up with old colleagues and to make a generous donation to support the internship program, ensuring that future students will have the same life-changing opportunity that he had. As we reconnected with Carlos, he volunteered to share his experience of how his summer internship sparked his interest in arts administration.
My name is Carlos García León and although I was part of CYSO for only one year, that one year was by far one of the most impacting moments of my life. My mom first encouraged me to audition to CYSO and I actually ended up applying right before the deadline. Both of my parents came to my audition for support, and when I was told that I was accepted, I cried from sheer happiness and disbelief.
Who would have guess that that was just the beginning of many happy memories? How would I have known that I would meet a lot of my great friends there? Or the fantastic music that we would make together? Not to mention the venues we got to play in?! Let me tell you that getting to play in Orchestra Hall and Jay Pritzker Pavilion are those moments in one’s life that will always bring a smile. Now as an alumnus, nothing makes me truly happier than to see the smiles of the musicians when they are performing. It is what I really live for.
While in CYSO, I heard about their summer internship program. I was one of two interns for the summer and to this day I think it’s one of the best internships that I had. I gained an understanding of how to prepare for the very first rehearsal of the season. As a musician playing in CYSO, I was only concerned with the notes on the page and whether Maestro was going to stop rehearsal because someone in the bassoon section was out of tune (you never know how a reed is going to act in the Chicago weather!). During the internship, I saw how much work and how many decisions go on behind the scene. Working with such a great staff made the whole time extremely enjoyable and the tasks were fun, too. I loved getting to be a part of something bigger.
This internship started my interest in arts administration and since then it has opened a lot of other doors for me. During my first year at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in Bassoon Performance, I found that my interest in arts administration kept growing and so I applied to other summer music organizations. Thanks to my time in CYSO, I have been able to work with Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Music@Menlo. It has let me to travel throughout the country, meet some of the greatest musicians of our time, and hear them do what they do best: play music. That is nothing compared to being able to help out the up-and-coming professional musicians and seeing them smile. After all these adventures, and the opportunities that have come my way, I thank CYSO for starting me on that path. I hope one day that I am working somewhere that gives others the same opportunities that CYSO gave me.
Thank you to Carlos for sharing his story! Current CYSO students interested in summer internships, stay tuned for application information this spring.