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CYSO Music Director Allen Tinkham


The CYSO Gala: Chicago Soul

By David Zivan

Photo by Mila Samokhina


The stellar Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise with its annual concert and fundraiser.

When considering the impact of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, it may be helpful to start with the numbers: the group helps train more than 650 young musicians, ages 6-18, in on-site programs, and another 8,500 students in Community Partnership programs. They come from 194 different Zip Codes. Close to 93 percent stay in the program year after year. One out of every four families receive assistance with their fees, and in the end, the organization offers around 50,000 instruction hours each year. It’s a wonderful cause.

This year’s gala theme is Chicago Soul—music born in the 1960’s on Michigan Avenue’s historic record row. CYSO celebrates the enduring legacy of that sound with an evening of retro glamour to benefit the CYSO’s world-class music education programming. The event will feature a special performance from the orchestra, led by Music Director Allen Tinkham, joined by Opal Staples, vocals, and Pharez Whitted, trumpet, in a finale featuring of some of Chicago soul music’s most recognizable hits. Ayana Contreras, host of WBEZ/Vocalo Radio’s “Reclaimed Soul” serves as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Details and tickets (while they last!) at