Spring Concert Tickets Now On Sale!

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.

No Jazz Experience Necessary

Jazz Orchestra is open to high school-age students. No prior jazz experience is required, but students should have instrumental experience and know how to read music.

Auditions happen each spring for the following season with recruiting opportunities over the summer.

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 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.

Enhance Your Experience

Once enrolled, students have the opportunity to deepen their musical experience at CYSO by signing up for a variety of additional enrichment programs. Opportunities are tailored to different levels of student musicians and participation is optional. Students will receive in-depth information about each program after they are accepted, but here’s a snapshot of what’s on tap.

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.


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.

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