Students play in Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra


Jordan Witzel

The CYSO orchestra rehearses for their upcoming concert.

Several Hinsdale Central students participate in the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO), a program that “has provided music education through orchestral programs and performance opportunities of the highest caliber since 1946”  according to their website. About 500 Chicagoland students tryout and participate in the program.

Jordan Witzel, senior, has been a violin player ever since she was five. Witzel said, “The Symphony Orchestra is the top orchestra and consists of mainly high school students.  It performs at Orchestra Hall, the Pritzker Pavillion, and venues internationally every other year.  We play standard orchestral repertoire along with new works by contemporary composers.  We also collaborate with groups like The Blue Man Group and Second City.”

The orchestra consists of about 140 student musicians, including seven students from Central. Two additional Central students are a part of other CYSO programs.

“There are many different orchestras and programs that the Chicago Youth Symphony offers,” Witzel said. “Although the prerequisite to audition is at least two years of experience on your instrument, to get into the top orchestras you need to be pretty experienced because it is highly competitive. The audition is pretty standard to other orchestra or music auditions. I was asked to prepare two contrasting movements of a concerto or solo piece and also play some orchestral excerpts that they provide.”

Rachel Chang, senior, has been playing the violin for 13 years. Chang said, “It’s fun playing with people from all around Illinois, and I’ve never been involved with any other chamber program before so it’s something new I can do with violin.”

Witzel agreed, saying it was her last year to audition and play in such a good orchestra.

Chang, who is a part of the Chamber Orchestra said, “My favorite parts about Chamber are the performances at the end of every semester. Not only do you get to play high level pieces and have them sound good, but you also get to work with and become friends with other great musicians all around Chicago.”

Working with such talented musicians pushes the students to work even harder at music which they are so passionate about. The students also get the opportunity to work with very passionate and experienced musicians, such as their conductor Maestro Tinkham, whom students say they have  a lot to learn from.