Meet this year’s CYSO Gala Honorees

Every year, the CYSO Gala highlights individuals and organizations making a positive impact in the lives of young musicians and the music community as a whole with our Note of Excellence Award. This year, we are proud to honor one of CYSO’s own, Jazz Orchestra Director Pharez Whitted, as well as Lawyers for the Creative Arts, an organization providing vital legal services to arts professionals. Read on to learn more about each of these very deserving honorees.

Pharez Whitted

CYSO Director of Jazz, award-winning trumpet player and educator

Lauded by the Chicago Tribune for his “richly deserved reputation as a trumpet virtuoso, seasoned educator and irrepressible champion of the music,” Pharez Whitted has led CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra since its creation in 2016. His roots in jazz run deep, beginning in 1930s Indianapolis with the Hampton Family Band, which featured his mother Virtue, her siblings—including trombone superstar Slide Hampton—and Whitted’s grandfather, Clarke “Deacon” Hampton. Whitted served as Director of Jazz Studies at Chicago State University and in addition to his roles with CYSO, works with Jazz at Lincoln Center and Ravinia’s Jazz Scholar program.

Lawyers for the Creative Arts logo


With more than 50 years of experience working with Chicago’s diverse creative community, Lawyers for the Creative Arts (LCA) delivers free services and programs to more than 5,000 artists and arts organizations every year. LCA services are made possible thanks to several thousand volunteer attorneys working at Chicago’s largest law firms who provide pro bono legal representation. The organizations also provides an ever-expanding range of educational programs, workshops, and consulting services. LCA is working with the legal, arts, and philanthropic communities to develop the next generation of programs and services to help artists meet the challenges of a changing world.

This year’s gala will also feature a special guest performance from jazz pianist Jahari Stampley. Stampley was a member of CYSO Jazz Orchestra’s inaugural season in 2017 and his star has risen dramatically over the past few years, including being named the Chicago Tribune’s 2023 Chicagoan of the Year for Jazz, winning first prize at the 2023 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition, and being recognized with CYSO’s 2023 Alumni Award.

We hope you’ll join us at the 2024 CYSO Gala: Got That Swing! on Saturday, March 2 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel!

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