A celebrated artist, arts administrator, educator, and visionary, Jennie Oh Brown serves as Executive Director of Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. Brown works in tandem with the CYSO team to build on CYSO’s long history of inspiring personal excellence through music by identifying new educational and performance opportunities for our young musicians, expanding community partnerships to provide musical training and access in under-served communities throughout Chicago, and growing CYSO’s profile as one of the nation’s cultural and musical gems. In addition, as the parent of a CYSO graduate (Cameron Brown, ‘15)., Brown brings a unique perspective on the impact and importance the program provides to students.
In addition to her role at CYSO, Brown is Artist in Residence at the Epiphany Center for the Arts (Chicago) and serves as flutist, Executive and Artistic Director of ensemble collective Picosa. Brown is an active performer throughout Chicago in many contexts, including performances with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera Orchestra. Her solo album, Giantess (Innova 2019), was featured in “Howard Reich’s Best Classical Albums of 2019” (Chicago Tribune). Additional albums include her first solo album “Looking Back: Flute Music by Joseph Schwantner” (Innova 2015), and “Vox” (Innova 2020) with the Heare Ensemble, which both released to critical acclaim. She serves on the board of Chamber Music America, on the Diversity and Inclusion and Historical Flutes Committees of the National Flute Association, and she is a member of the Recording Academy.
Brown is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music (Bachelor of Music degree in Flute Performance), the Eastman School of Music (Performers Certificate, Doctorate and Masters of Music Performance, Repertoire, and Literature), and the Interlochen Arts Academy. Most recently, she served as Artistic Director of Epiphany Center for the Arts, Artistic and Executive Director of Ear Taxi Festival in 2021, founder and faculty member of Credo Flute, and faculty at Wheaton College and Elmhurst University.
What was the first ensemble you played in?
Believe it or not, when I first tried to join the band at my elementary school in 6th grade, I was told that I was too old and was not permitted to join. I now find that pretty hilarious! Fortunately, my mother found a wonderful flute teacher, and I began taking private lessons on my own. I joined my junior high band in 8th grade, and I found it quite fun!
Who is your favorite musician and why?
I am a huge fan of Leonard Bernstein. What he created as an artist will forever inspire me, whether it’s his recordings, writings, speaking, or composing. Additionally, he was a wonderful pedagogue and created so many books and concert/lecture series to teach young people about the beauty of classical music. I think it is likely that performing West Side Story as a sophomore in high school (a student directed project!) was the moment in my life when I decided that I wanted to be a performing musician. I had never had so much fun in my life. The following summer, I made the decision to go to the National Music Camp at Interlochen, and eventually enrolled in the Interlochen Arts Academy. The rest is history!