Community Engagement

CYSO strongly believes that every student should have equal access to high-quality music education. Beyond benefitting students on an individual level, music education helps create and strengthen a vibrant community. Through our Community Engagement Programs, CYSO brings music directly to students who need it most. Reaching more than 8,500 young people each year, CYSO Community Engagement Programs include on-site and satellite programs, concerts, partnerships and more. Students gain not only musical knowledge and abilities, they learn firsthand the importance of working together as a team, self-discipline, personal responsibility, confidence, and the value of commitment.


Continuing CYSO’s long commitment to partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), we’ve united our after-school ensemble programs under the umbrella ” CYSO at CPS.” These programs include weekly beginner band, steelpan, and percussion training provided by some of area’s most experienced working music educators. In addition to weekly instrumental training, students in CYSO at CPS programs receive free in-school education concerts and are provided free tickets to CYSO’s Orchestral Hall performances.

Ambassadors Program

The Ambassadors program brings CYSO chamber music students into Chicago Public Schools to perform educational and interactive concerts. At the performances, youth in the audience experience, often for the first time, music performed by a fellow young person. CYSO students gain empathy and presentation skills as they learn to present an engaging program for the school audiences. Read more about Amabassadors


CYSO Masterclass workshops are presented throughout the season to allow students access to instruction, mentoring, and feedback from professional musicians, as well as other topics that impact students’ success. This season’s  Masterclasses will include Getting Into College 101, Double Double Workshop for double reed and double bassists, and guest artist clinics. Masterclasses are always free and open to all young musicians from around the region whether or not they are current CYSO members. Check out upcoming Masterclass events.

Community Partnerships

The People’s Music School
In an effort to increase access to CYSO programs for students from diverse backgrounds, CYSO is partnering  with Chicago’s The People’s Music School (TPMS). TMPS has provided free musical instrument training to young people for over 40 years, with programs in neighborhoods throughout the city. The partnership allows students to supplement their on-going TPMS instruction with CYSO orchestral programs. CYSO audition fees are waived for TPMS students and staff from both programs work together to support and guide students as they develop their music abilities.

Chicago Public Schools
CYSO is dedicated to supporting Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) in the development of instrumental music education, which can serve a pivotal role in developing student’s musicianship.

  • CYSO’s Accelerando Strings Side-by-Side program partners with CPS’s Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) to perform a yearly joint concert
  • CYSO at CPS programs at National Teachers Academy, Moos, and Nixon Elementary Schools
Community Concerts

During the season, CYSO performs concerts that bring its ensembles into the community by performing at venues throughout the Chicago area. Community Concerts are free and open to the public, and allow local residents that may not be able to attend the concerts downtown the opportunity to enjoy performances by CYSO’s ensembles. Upcoming Community Concert performances.

Education Concerts

Throughout the season, CYSO performs Education Concerts for CPS students both in their schools and in venues around Chicago. These free concerts offer an opportunity for students to experience music performed by fellow young people, and offer CYSO performers the chance to serve as mentors to younger students. For these concerts, conductors and students provide programming designed to engage students and increase their knowledge of instruments, performance, and music history.

Fill the Hall

As part of CYSO’s commitment to community engagement, we offer free tickets to our twice-yearly performances at Orchestra Hall to CPS schools, community music schools, local non-profits, and other partner organizations. Our premier event, the Orchestra Hall concerts allow other young musicians to listen to Symphony Orchestra performances in person and experience the grandeur of a concert in Orchestra Hall.

Interested in Orchestra Hall concert vouchers for your group? Contact Abbey Hambright via email or at 312-939-2207 x310.

Music Inspiration Award

Each year, CYSO honors a music educator in our community who inspires and encourages their students’ musical development. This award recognizes the depth and strength of the community of music educators in the Chicago area and their indispensable work on behalf of young musicians. See previous winners of this award.