Our Orchestra Ensembles - Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

CYSO orchestras include ensembles for students of all skill levels, including string and full orchestras. Watch the videos below for a snapshot of the playing level of each orchestra and the type of repertoire they perform.

Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Orchestra is internationally recognized as one of the foremost youth orchestras and made up of the most talented and dedicated student musicians. Under the direction of CYSO Music Director Allen Tinkham, Symphony Orchestra students have the opportunity to hone their skills while performing the most advanced orchestral repertoire alongside exciting new works by contemporary composers. Symphony Orchestra’s annual seasons feature collaborations with leading cultural institutions, a concerto competition, and performances at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall and Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion. As CYSO’s flagship ensemble, Symphony Orchestra members have the opportunity to participate in high-profile events, including CYSO’s international tours, being broadcast on WFMT, and collaborations with world famous musicians like Anthony and Demarre McGill, Ben Folds, My Brightest Diamond, Blue Man Group, and many more.

Philharmonic Orchestra

Led by Associate Conductor Terrance Malone Gray, Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of talented student musicians and provides an advanced orchestral experience including exclusive training opportunities including sectionals and coaching from professional musicians, a concerto competition, and multiple performance opportunities in some of the area’s most renowned venues including the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts, Studebaker Theater, and Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall. Philharmonic Orchestra students have the opportunity to perform advanced orchestral repertoire and new works by contemporary composers. In addition to its regular season concerts, Philharmonic Orchestra also performs two education concerts CPS elementary school students and does a reading session of student works by participants in CYSO’s Composition Seminar. Philharmonic Orchestra rehearses weekly on Sundays from 12:00 – 2:30 pm.

Accelerando Strings

Under the direction of CYSO Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez,  Accelerando Strings provides string orchestra training to high school musicians. Accelerando Strings’ season includes weekly rehearsals that focus on technique, string repertoire, musicianship, and presentation skills. Students perform two concerts at venues such as Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall, Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and a community concert at a CPS high school. Members of Accelerando Strings also have the opportunity to participate in Composition Seminar. Accelerando Strings rehearses weekly on Saturdays from 1:00 – 3:00 pm.

Concert Orchestra

Led by conductor Michael Mascari and supported by teaching assistant Laura Yawney, Concert Orchestra provides advanced orchestral training to predominantly high school musicians. Concert Orchestra students have the opportunity to perform advanced orchestral repertoire and new works by contemporary composers. Their season includes weekly rehearsals, sectionals, a concerto competition, an audition seminar, and concerts in some of the area’s most renowned venues including Harris Theater, Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, and the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts. Concert Orchestra is also featured in the spring at the Chicago Cultural Center on a pair of educational concerts sponsored by the International Music Foundation for CPS elementary school students. Concert Orchestra rehearses weekly on Saturday from 12:30 – 3:00 pm.

Debut Orchestra

Led by conductor Dana Green and supported by Assistant Conductor Steven Gooden, Debut Orchestra provides predominantly middle school-aged student musicians with their first exposure to high level full orchestra training. Their season includes weekly rehearsals, sectionals, and performances at local venues such as the Studebaker Theater and Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Debut Orchestra rehearses weekly on Saturdays from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm.

Preparatory Strings

Led by Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez and supported by Assistant Director of String Ensembles Anne Huynh McTighe, Preparatory Strings provides string orchestra training to predominantly elementary school-aged students who read music and have at least two years of playing experience on their instruments. Weekly rehearsals focus on technique, ensemble performance skills, and basic string repertoire. Preparatory Strings’ season includes two performances at local venues that have included the Studebaker Theater and Northwestern University’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. Preparatory Strings rehearses weekly on Saturdays from 10:30 – 12:30 pm.

Overture Strings

Led by Anne Huynh McTighe, under the direction of Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez, Overture Strings provides entry level string orchestra training to our youngest elementary school aged student musicians. Their season includes two performances and weekly rehearsals that focus on technique, ensemble performance skills, basic string repertoire, and music theory. Overture Strings rehearses weekly on Saturdays from 9:00 – 10:15 am.

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