CYSO musicians experience superb music instruction from Chicago’s most respected professional musicians, perform in the world’s greatest concert halls, and gain the confidence and responsibility necessary for a successful future.



CYSO offers full and string orchestras for students from elementary to high school. Auditions take place each spring.



Four steel ensembles open to students from elementary to high school. No previous steel or percussion experience required to join.



Building on Chicago’s long history as a center of American Jazz music, CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra is open to high school-age musicians.


CYSO believes that the arts are vital to building strong communities. By partnering with organizations already working in Chicago’s diverse neighborhood, we are able to reach young people with limited access to instrumental music programs. Our Community Partnership Programs include neighborhood-based ensembles, free workshops, and educational concerts.

CYSO musicians are offered unparalleled experiences and performance opportunities rarely available to young musicians.

Our orchestras perform in world-class venues and at high-profile events throughout Chicago and around the world. CYSO’s international touring program has taken students to Europe, Asia, and South America. Our students regularly appear on WFMT’s Introductions and have performed on the national broadcast series From The Top. CYSO was the first classical music ensemble to play at Lollapalooza, and ensembles have performed for dignitaries such as First Lady Michelle Obama and Chicago mayors Rahm Emanuel and Richard M. Daley. In 2015, CYSO students played alongside the Chicago Bulls for the team’s 2015 video holiday card, and appeared with Justin Timberlake at the 2012 Ryder Cup PGA golf tournament opening ceramony. Whether on stage at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall or in front of 80,000 screaming fans, CYSO musicians appear on some of the best stages in the world.

100% of CYSO students go on to college, with approximately half of each year’s graduating class pursuing music at some of the nation’s finest conservatories and universities. Many students also go on to become music professionals and win positions in the top orchestras in the nation.

Most importantly, whether or not they continue their music studies after graduation, students leave CYSO with a strong sense of discipline, self-confidence, and a deep appreciation for the arts.

Be part of CYSO!

CYSO has programs for young musicians of all ages and skill levels.
Read more about the audition process to be part of an experience like no other.