Community Programs - Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

CYSO is larger than the students in our ensembles and school-based programs; we are a network of families and music-lovers from all across our city. We know that access to live concerts and music education varies greatly throughout Chicago, so we are investing in partnerships and strategic community resources to help connect musicians, educators, and audiences from all backgrounds.

Did You Know?

1 in 3

1 in 3 CPS students do not have consistent access to high-quality arts education at all and the vast majority of CPS students do not have any access to daily or weekly instrumental instruction. These structural deficiencies disproportionately affect Black and economically disadvantaged students. 

146

CYSO’s 800 students come from 146 zip codes across Chicagoland and neighboring states, representing a broad mix of backgrounds and communities.

15%

According to the League of American Orchestras, non-white musicians still hold fewer than 15% of professional orchestra jobs in the U.S., with African American/ Black musicians holding only 1.8% of those positions and Latinx musicins holding 2.5%.  Graduates of programs like CYSO are the future leaders of our field.

Resources for Schools

CYSO works with schools to create a robust pathway for talented and committed young musicians through CYSO@CPS school-based ensembles and free concerts that reach more than 10,000 young people annually. 

CMPI

CYSO is a founding member of Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI), an city-wide project that supports talented young musicians from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, including Black and indigenous students of color and more. CMPI provides mentoring, coaching, and financial support to help students achieve their full musical potential.

Audition Resources

CYSO has free resources available for groups of young musicians to grow their auditioning skills. Request an audition masterclass by emailing Karen Mari at kmari@cyso.org.

Fill the Hall – See Concerts For Free!

As part of CYSO’s commitment to community engagement, we offer free tickets to our flagship performances at Orchestra Hall for CPS schools, community music schools, local non-profits, and other partner organizations. As our premier fall and spring event the Orchestra Hall concerts allow other young musicians to hear CYSO Symphony Orchestra performances in person and experience the grandeur of a concert in Orchestra Hall. Interested in Fill the Hall tickets for your group? Contact Abbey Hambright at ahambright@cyso.org or at 312-939-2207 x310.

Masterclasses

CYSO Masterclass workshops are presented throughout the season both in person and online. These workshops allow students access to instruction, mentoring, and feedback from top professional musicians from around the world. Masterclasses are always free and open to all young musicians from around the region whether or not they are current CYSO members. Find an upcoming Masterclass.

Community Concerts

During the season, CYSO performs concerts that bring our 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. Performances take place at venues in Chicago neighborhoods outside the Loop, as well as various suburbs.

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