CYSO offers twelve on-site orchestras and ensembles: Three string orchestras serving primarily elementary and high school students, and four full orchestras that serve middle and high school players.

Play With The Best

CYSO ensembles receive instruction from some of Chicago’s top professional musicians and regularly perform at the region’s most prestigious venues including Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall, Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts.

String and full orchestra range from elementary to high school musicians with at least a year or two of experience on their instrument. Auditions take place each spring for the upcoming season’s ensembles.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

CYSO program tuition is available online on our tuition page. We make our programs accessible to all students, regardless of their financial background. Need-based financial assistance is available for all CYSO programs.

Meet CYSO’s Music Director, Allen Tinkham

Allen Tinkham is increasingly recognized as one of the most inspiring and exciting conductors and teachers of his generation. He is hailed by the Chicago Tribune as both a conductor and teacher, described as working “wonders” conducting with “uncanny control” and as one of Chicago’s most important “educators, mentors and inspirational guides in the training of tomorrow’s orchestral professionals.”

Enhance Your Experience

Chamber Music

CYSO’s Chamber Music program is open to Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestra students. Ensembles train in the art of small ensemble playing with a comprehensive curriculum, weekly professional coaching, and special performance opportunities.


Ambassadors are select CYSO Chamber Music ensembles who visit CPS elementary schools to share educational performances. The fall semester features intensive repertoire study with professional coaches and in the spring, students develop and present their in-school presentations.

CORE Chamber Orchestra

The Classical Orchestral Repertory Ensemble (CORE) is a chamber orchestra made up of a select group of exceptional Symphony Orchestra students who perform traditional classical orchestral repertoire. CORE is dedicated to performing the classics of orchestral repertoire that cannot be performed in the larger orchestra setting.

International Tour

CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed a rich tradition of international touring. Beginning in 1985 and continuing through the last 2022 tour, CYSO students have traveled to and performed in more than 60 of the world’s greatest cities. Professionally managed tours provide students with unparalleled experiences and opportunities to perform in venues rich in history and tradition.

Composition Seminar

Geared toward high school-age students, Composition Seminar allows students to develop their compositional voice through improvisation, listening exercises, score analysis, historical analysis and private composition lessons. 

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