Our Students - Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

CYSO students come from schools and communities all across the Chicagoland area, united in their love of music and their passion for exploring the limits of what is possible. Whether they are seasoned performers or just beginning to explore their instrument, CYSO students are dedicated to growth and to supporting one another in a team environment. CYSO is committed to investing in young musicians so they can reach their full potential musically, personally, and academically.

“CYSO gave me confidence and a learning environment where every year I was challenged to grow in ways I never thought would be possible. I look back on my CYSO experience and am so grateful for the skills I gained and the community that supported me.”

Oliver Talukder, CYSO Class of 2020

Meet the Musicians

CYSO students come from more than 146 different zip codes across 104 towns and cities and 4 states.

Grade Level




of CYSO students graduate high school, going on to college, attending some of the top conservatories, colleges, universities in the world


number of languages spoken in the homes of CYSO students


of CYSO students volunteer regularly, giving approximately 1,000 hours in service each month

Student Spotlights

CYSO’s Adriana Koch Shares Her Experience as a CMPI Fellow

Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) identifies orchestral students from underrepresented backgrounds and those from low-income backgrounds or who would be the first in their family to attend college and prepares…

CYSO’s Rafael Noriega Named to Chicago’s 2020 Rising Star Honor Roll

CYSO is pleased to announce that Rafael Noriega has been recognized by the City of Chicago as a member of the 2019 Rising Star Honor Roll. The city of Chicago…

After COVID Cancelation, CYSO Alum Lauren Makinney Organizes Front Yard Concert

COVID-19 cancelations have been hard of musicians of all ages, but for last spring’s high school seniors it was especially heartbreaking. Not satisfied to let all her practice go to…

Young Musicians Create Music Mentoring Program During COVID-19

Social distancing brings many challenges, not the least of which is trying to stay connected to each other and the things we love.  CYSO Social Media Team member and Philharmonic…

CYSO Cellist Creates The Swan Project to Bring Hope During Difficult Times

CYSO students display their resilience and creativity on a daily basis, and never more so than now as we continue music-making while socially distant. CYSO Social Media Team member and…

CYSO Bassist Gives Back: Nicholas Boettcher and The No Repeats Program

In 2017, then 13-year-old bassist Nicholas Boettcher had an idea to bring music lessons to teens serving time in the juvenile detention center near his home in Naperville. With the…

CYSO’s Keith Calloway Named to Chicago’s Rising Star Honor Roll

We’re pleased to announce that Keith Calloway has been recognized by the City of Chicago as a member of the 2019 Rising Star Honor Roll. Presented by Mayor Lori Lightfoot…

“I Value My Best Effort”: How Concert Orchestra’s Evan McMahon Learns Resiliency and Gives Back

Evan McMahon is a violinist in CYSO’s Concert Orchestra and junior at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School who also plays in the Whitney Young Chamber Orchestra. In addition to…

Symphony Orchestra’s Oliver Talukder Gets Tips on NYO

 This summer, CYSO Symphony Orchestra co-principal oboeist Oliver Talukder will join 100 fellow young musicians from across the country for Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of…

Young Musicians of Accelerando Strings and ChiArts Orchestra Come Together for Concert Collaboration

Shreya Dudeja is Concertmaster in CYSO’s Accelerando Strings and a member of CYSO’s Social Media Team. She recently participated in the concert collaboration with ChiArts Orchestra and spoke to her…

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