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. The orchestra is comprised of 20 – 25 high school-aged student musicians under the direction of jazz musician and educator Pharez Whitted. The Jazz Orchestra performs everything from classic big band swing charts steeped in jazz tradition to new works that incorporate the current and emerging styles defining the genre today. 

Join CYSO's Jazz Orchestra!

The CYSO Jazz program will be accepting applications throughout the summer. Fill out the form below to be contacted if there is an open spot for your instrument.


Note: If your child is already enrolled in a CYSO orchestra, please fill out this audition form.


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. Sectionals will be held throughout the season on regular rehearsal days at the Fine Arts Building.

CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra performs throughout the season at locations around the Chicago area, including principal fall and spring concerts at Jazz Showcase in Chicago.

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 CYSO Director of Operations, Brian Baxter, at 312-939-2207 x240 or bbaxter@cyso.org