Symphony Orchestra

Internationally recognized as one of the foremost youth orchestras, CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra is comprised of the most talented and dedicated student musicians. Under the direction of 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.

Since its first season in 1946, CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra has achieved international recognition for its excellence and innovation in orchestral performance. The orchestra is known as an important training ground for the cultivation of the next generation of professional musicians. In fact, you can hear our alumni playing in more than 40 orchestras around the world including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Presidents Own, Cleveland Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, among many others. See some of CYSO’s notable alumni.

The Symphony Orchestra is a leader in the performance of contemporary orchestral music among youth. Among its honors are eleven ASCAP awards for adventurous programming; three Illinois Council of Orchestras Youth Orchestra of the Year awards; two Illinois Council of Orchestras Programming of the Year awards; broadcasts on National Public Radio and WFMT; and international tours to the music capitals of Central and Western Europe, Asia and South America, and our 2014 tour of China. Read more about Symphony Orchestra touring.

In August 2007, members of the Symphony Orchestra performed with the rock band, My Morning Jacket, and became the first ever classical music ensemble to take the stage at Chicago’s legendary rock music festival, Lollapalooza. That performance is listed as one of the top 20 moments in Lollapalooza history. In August 2010, members of the Symphony Orchestra returned to Lollapalooza to perform with Dane Zanes and in August 2011, performed with My Brightest Diamond at Millennium Park’s Jay Pritzker Pavillion. In summer 2015, Symphony Orchestra performed both with rock musician Ben Folds at the Chicago Theatre, as well as alongside Blue Man Group at Pritzker Pavillion. See highlights from some these performances.