Jazz Orchestra

Building on Chicago’s rich history as a center of jazz music creation and innovation, CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra is dedicated to the study and performance of classic and contemporary big band jazz music. Made up of 25 high school-age musicians, the ensemble performs everything from classic big band swing charts steeped in jazz tradition to new works incorporating current and emerging styles.

The deadline to audition for CYSO’s 2020-2021 Jazz Orchestra has passed. Recruiting auditions are now being accepted.

CYSO will hold some auditions throughout the summer to fill any remaining spots in our orchestras. Fill out the form below if you’re interested in being considered for a recruiting audition and we will be in touch if there are openings for your instrument. 

If you do not have access to your instrument at home, don’t have access to a device to record your video, or have other challenges to recording an audition video, please reach out to Karen at kmari@cyso.org after submitting your registration to discuss alternative solutions.


  • Jazz Orchestra is open to high school-age students. No prior jazz experience in required, but students should have instrumental experience and know how to read music.
  • Jazz Orchestra weekly rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:30 pm at CYSO’s rehearsal space in the Fine Arts Building, Room 833. 
  • Tuition is $750 for the season (September-May). Financial assistance is available.
  • Jazz Orchestra sectionals are led by some of Chicago’s top professional musicians and are designed to provide additional assistance in preparing season repertoire.
Pharez Whitted

Meet CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra Director, Pharez Whitted. 

A respected jazz musician and educator, Pharez Whitted has been performing for more than 30 years. He serves is on the faculty of Ravinia’s prestigious Jazz Scholar Program, served as Professor of Music at Chicago State University, and performs regularly around the region. Read full bio

Question about Jazz Orchestra? Contact Kaytie Faries at kfaries@cyso.org or 312-939-2207 ext. 240 

This program is supported in part by a grant from The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc.