Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) hosted its 2022 Gala “Listen to the Future,” celebrating CYSO’s 75th Anniversary season at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, 2121 S. Prairie Ave., Saturday, March 12. A record-breaking $680,000 was raised at this evening of glamour and music, honoring CYSO’s past, present and future. Emcees for the evening were WBEZ’s Mary Dixon and writer and Caropop podcast host Mark Caro. Event chairs were Dr. Louanne Carabini and Shawn O’Leary, and Angela and Dana O’Banion. Proceeds from the evening directly support CYSO’s music education programs for dedicated young musicians from across the Chicago region.
“It was wonderful to gather in person once again so that our guests could experience the energy and enthusiasm of our young musicians performing live as we listened to the future. That this return coincided with CYSO’s 75th anniversary celebration made it even more special,” said Gala Co-Chair Angela O’Banion. “I’d like to thank our current students and their families for continuing in CYSO’s rich tradition of musical excellence. I also want to thank my fellow co-chair, the host committee and board, our emcees, staff, and our guests, honorees, and sponsors for their incredible support in making this CYSO’s most successful Gala ever.”
The evening began at 6 p.m. with cocktails in the lobby and the opportunity to mingle and browse displays highlighting CYSO’s past 75 years while enjoying music from CYSO’s young Preparatory Strings students, led by Daniella Valdez, Director of String Ensembles. At 7 p.m. guests proceeded to dinner as CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Allen Tinkham, performed Anna Clyne’s “Masquerade” and the Kaiso Steel Orchestra, led by the Director of Steel Orchestra Scott McConnell, performed “The Bees Melody” by Aldwyn Roberts. Following welcome comments by event chair’s O’Leary and O’Banion, the Symphony Orchestra performed “Prayer for Ukraine,” known by many as Ukraine’s spiritual anthem, in recognition of the country’s current challenges.
After a break for dinner, the evening continued with a live auction and performance of selections from Wynton Marsalis’s “Swing Symphony” played by a combined group of Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Orchestra. CYSO is the first youth orchestra to tackle the extremely challenging piece. The performance was followed by a video presentation featuring four CYSO alumni speaking about how the organization has influenced their life, including Chicago Symphony Orchestra horn Oto Carrillo. CYSO Executive Director Susan Lape then took the podium to speak about the importance of CYSO’s financial assistance, which makes CYSO’s programming accessible for hundreds of students. Following her remarks, CYSO supporters contributed to a record-breaking paddle raise.
Preceding the presentation of the 2022 Note of Excellence Award, gala attendees were treated to the world premiere of Derrick E. Gardner’s “Chi-Town Suite” performed by CYSO’s Jazz Orchestra, let by Parez Whitted. The new piece was commissioned by CYSO in honor of its 75th anniversary season. This year’s award was presented to Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Accepting was Todd Stoll, Vice President of Education for Jazz at Lincoln Center.
CYSO Board Chair Ross Bricker also shared a special announcement that the organization is kicking off a $5M endowment campaign in honor of its 75th anniversary. Endowment donors to date were honored.
CYSO capped the memorable evening with Kaiso Steel orchestra performing Stevie Wonder’s “Masterblaster (Jammin)” and Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “September” followed by Symphony Orchestra performing Marquez’ “Danzon No 2,” the finale from Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite” and Bernstein’s “Mambo.”
Sponsors for CYSO’s “Listen to the Future” Gala: Premium Level – Pritzker Traubert Foundation and Sheppard Mullin; Gold Level – Jenner & Block and The Bricker Vinik Family and Brittany Viola & Justin Bernbrock; and Silver Level – Dr. Louanne Carabini & Shawn O’Leary, Chapman and Cutler, Lakeview Smiles and Hyr8 IV and Medspa, Stephen & Terry Schwartz, and Cynthia Van Osdol & John Sandwick.
CYSO’s “Listen to the Future” Gala preceded the Symphony Orchestra’s Spring Concert at Orchestra Hall 7:30 p.m., May 22. Tickets for this concert go on sale in April. For more information visit cyso.org.