Students Reflect on Returning to In-Person Rehearsals - Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

Students Reflect on Returning to In-Person Rehearsals

After one and a half seasons of remote or pod rehearsals, CYSO students are thrilled to finally be back in the Fine Arts Building. Social media team and Concert Orchestra members Laney Kang and Abigail AuYeung spoke with some CYSO musicians to reflect upon this time period and show their excitement to be back in-person!

“Dear CYSO Students and Families, Effective Saturday, March 14, all CYSO activities including: rehearsals, auditions, concerts, and performances have been suspended.”

After receiving this announcement in March 2020, students experienced a wide array of emotions. “I was really sad because I was really excited about the pieces we were playing last year,” shared oboist Corinna Irvin. “I was also very confused about how a full orchestra would play and learn the pieces over zoom.”

Although CYSO students were disappointed about not being able to rehearse in-person, they were still grateful for the opportunity to still rehearse in some capacity. Bassist Sindhu Tiwari added, “I knew the experience wouldn’t be the same, but I was still glad that I had the opportunity to make music with others, no matter how unconventional it may be.” 

Screenshot of a CYSO Concert Orchestra virtual rehearsal on Zoom

Despite the initial disappointment that came with the announcement of remote rehearsals, CYSO students proved to be resilient. Violinist Caitlin Howe explained, “In virtual CYSO, we were all muted so we couldn’t hear each other. It was really hard to know if you’re in the right place.” Even though it was much more difficult to accomplish in a remote setting, hard work and dedication resulted in three beautiful concert recordings. The fall, winter, and spring concerts showed a phenomenal level of musicianship that truly showcased the talents of CYSO musicians.

As CYSO transitioned into the 2021-2022 season fully in person, students were excited to regain the social aspect of the CYSO experience. Creating music together allows musicians to create a strong bond, and this bond was significantly missed during quarantine.

Flutist Noelle Klima declared, “I missed connecting with my section because you don’t get the same feel of playing music together with your part [in a remote setting]. I’m really excited to be back in person!”

Hearing the constant chatter and surrounding sounds of other students practicing is truly refreshing. Cellist Saroya Ornelas Pagnucci elaborated, “It’s different playing in your own house and only hearing yourself, so having the ability to hear everyone together and making music has been really gratifying!”

Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsal with conductor Terrance Malone Gray leading a packed room of young musicians

Overall, CYSO students are ecstatic to be back in the Fine Arts Building. The in-person orchestral experience creates valuable musical opportunities and provides students with incredible friendships. Violinist Lucian O’Leary shared, “I like that I can finally interact with actual people and build relationships with my orchestra members.” Reconnecting with old friends—albeit usually masked and sometimes across the room—and making new ones greatly enriches students’ musical experiences at CYSO. Violinist Coco Schuster summed it up: “I’m excited to be able to experience the joy of music with my friends who share the same passions as me!”


Photos of Laney Kang and Abigail AuYeung

Laney Kang (pictured above left) is a violinist in CYSO’s Concert Orchestra and a member of the CYSO Social Media Team. This is Laney’s seventh season participating in CYSO. She is a junior at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois. Aside from music, Laney trains and competes in dance.

Abigail AuYeung is a cellist in CYSO’s Concert Orchestra. This is her second season with CYSO. She’s currently a freshman at Hinsdale Central High School. In her free time, Abigail enjoys reading, baking, and playing the cello, of course!


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