Senior Interview: Jazz Orchestra ’24 Joel Fisher

It’s no secret that the act of playing music together not only has the power to create a beautiful sound that can elicit chills, spark joy, and provoke tears. However, creating a strong social bond with your fellow musicians is an angle that 2024 CYSO Jazz Orchestra graduate Joel Fisher, cannot ignore.  Joel Fisher plans to study biology and pre-med in college, but has no intentions on stopping being a musician. The gift of playing and teaching music will continue to bring him joy for years. We interviewed Joel on his CYSO experiences and the road ahead.

Joel Fisher performing with Jazz Orchestra at the 2023 CYSO Gala: Women in Music

How long have you been with CYSO? What are some of your favorite CYSO memories?

I have been in CYSO for four years, since my freshman year of high school. My two favorite CYSO memories are: 1, playing the end of year concert last year at the Jazz Showcase with the whole band totally enthralled in the music and 2, playing Derrick Gardner’s Chicago Suite at the Fulton Street Collective with many guest artists.


What did CYSO do for you? As a student? As a musician? As a human? How did it have an impact on you?

CYSO gave me attainable, valuable connections to the Chicago jazz scene and allowed me to meet like-minded students who loved playing jazz. It also gave me the opportunity to meet experienced teachers who have given important advice about how to navigate life as a musician.


What were your biggest motivations throughout high school?

My biggest musical motivation was to continue improving so that I could make the music I was hearing in my head and share it with others. Academically, my motivation was to always succeed in school, because I knew I had the capability to do so and I felt like I owed it to myself to do the best I could. Extracurricularly, my motivation was to do the things that brought me joy, whether that be teaching and playing music, doing varsity sports at school, or doing activities with friends. 

Joel with Jazz Orchestra Director Pharez Whitted


What are you looking forward to most in college?

At college, I’m looking forward to discovering new, deep interests, as well as taking advantage of how college allows you to be a curious person. While I’m not 100% committed yet, I want to study biology to help me go down the pre-med path in college. Biology and pre-med have many overlapping classes, which would give me time to take other classes I’m interested in, like music and math.


Why should someone want to be involved with and support CYSO?

I think you should be involved with CYSO for the people you meet and the connections you make with people through music. Just this year at the CYSO Gala, the Jazz Orchestra got to play with guest artist Jahari Stampley. Before the show, a few other JO musicians and I just sat and talked with him for multiple hours, learning about how he got to where he is today through CYSO and other outlets. It was so cool to make that shared “CYSO connection” with him just like the connections I made with the musicians my age.


How do you plan to incorporate music into your life after CYSO?

I plan on incorporating music after CYSO by both studying it in college, and being a ‘weekend warrior’ and playing many gigs when I get the chance. 


What advice would you give to CYSO students who are applying to college next year?

Don’t be afraid to apply to schools just because you don’t think you’ll get in, and put CYSO first on your extracurriculars list!

Joel Fisher plans to study biology and pre-med in college, but has no intentions on stopping being a musician. The gift of playing and teaching music will continue to bring him joy for years to come. With your support, CYSO can continue to provide the nearly 600 students, just like Fisher, with opportunities to strengthen their community and connect with one another through the power of collaborating on music. Help us reach our goal of $20,000 by June 30th.

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