Thursday, December 1, 2022


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Evening’s honorees include CYSO alum, visionary artist/musician

Laurie Anderson 

who will also perform with CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras (CYSO) hosts its 2023 gala “Women in Music” at The Geraghty, 2520 S. Hoyne Avenue, Saturday, Feb. 25 beginning at 6 p.m. This is CYSO’s largest fundraising event of the year. Attendees will enjoy cocktails, gourmet dinner provided by Boka Catering, live auction, and performances from more than 100 of CYSO’s talented young musicians, including orchestra, steelpan, and jazz ensembles. Proceeds from the evening directly support CYSO’s award-winning music education programs for dedicated young musicians from across the Chicago region.

This evening of glamour and music will highlight the achievements of the many pioneering women who continue to pave the way for the future of music. The event will feature three inspiring honorees including groundbreaking artist/musician and CYSO alum, Laurie Anderson, who will also join the organization’s flagship Symphony Orchestra for a live performance of one of Anderson’s pieces; CEO of Mesirow Natalie A. Brown; and CYSO Director of String Ensembles Daniella Valdez. Event chairs are Laura Mandel & Richard Blessen and Pamella Der & Wei Shih. WGN anchor and investigative reporter Lourdes Duarte will once again emcee the event.

Individual tickets to the gala are $450 per person. Standard and VIP tables are available. Cocktail attire, black tie optional. Valet parking available. Rideshare options also recommended.  For more information visit or contact Marc Bitler by email at or by phone at 312.939.2207, ext. 200.

Sponsors for CYSO’s “Women in Music” Gala: Premium Level - Sheppard Mullin; Gold Level - Jenner & Block and The Bricker Vinik Family and Cynthia Van Osdol & John Sandwick; and Silver Level – Conagra Brands, Mesirow, Pritzker Traubert Foundation and Stephen & Terry Schwartz.

About Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras

Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras’ mission is to inspire and cultivate personal excellence through music. After more than 75 years of music-making, CYSO continues to shape generations of young leaders and musicians. Students collaborate and create in a learning environment like no other, developing fundamental skills including leadership, teamwork, and resilience. We are committed to educating, encouraging, and empowering each young musician so that they may pursue personal excellence both on and off stage.

CYSO works with young musicians ages 6-18 in on-site and school-based ensembles, and offers community programming reaching audiences of all ages across the Chicago region. Our programs include symphony orchestras, string orchestras, steelpan, jazz band, chamber music, and music composition. We invest in our community through CYSO@CPS school-based ensembles and free concerts that reach more than 10,000 young people annually. 

CYSO promotes and provides ensemble-focused programming because we believe in the power of community. A young musician’s time at CYSO is a pathway of opportunity and growth, but they do not walk it alone. By bringing together young people from across the region, CYSO students build bonds with those who come from different backgrounds and share a passion for music. They develop the skills necessary to thrive as an ensemble. Whether or not a student continues musical studies after their time in CYSO, young people leave with increased self-confidence and a deep appreciation for music and the arts.

Major support for CYSO's 2022-2023 season is provided by: the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Ross Bricker and Nina Vinik, Dr. Louanne Carabini and Shawn O'Leary, Pam and Dave Conroy, J. Lawrence and Susan Costin, Crown Family Philanthropies, the Julius N. Frankel Foundation, Kelly and Dennis Howe, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince, Jim and Ginger Meyer, Ms. Jennifer Myerberg and The Alvin and Louise Myerberg Family Foundation, Inc., the Negaunee Foundation, Angela and Dana O’Banion, Bonita and Delano O’Banion, John and Joyce Schladweiler, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen L. and Terry Schwartz, Brittany Viola and Justin Bernbrock, and the Zell Family Foundation.

Honoree Biographies


Artist, composer, director and 1965 CYSO alum

A native of Glen Ellyn, Laurie Anderson’s five-decade career spans the worlds of art, theater, experimental music, and technology, with live shows ranging from simple spoken word to elaborate multi-media stage performances. Her recording career was launched by the hit ‘O Superman’ in 1981 and she was appointed the first artist-in-residence of NASA. Earlier this year, Anderson opened her largest solo exhibition at The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum titled "The Weather."


CEO of Mesirow

Natalie A. Brown is Chief Executive Officer of Mesirow, just the 6th CEO in the company’s 85-year history and the first woman to serve in the role. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and the Executives’ Club of Chicago and sits on the boards of multiple youth education nonprofit organizations.


CYSO Director of String Ensembles

Daniella Valdez has led CYSO’s string orchestra programs for the past 17 years. She oversees three on-site ensembles, engaging with hundreds of string players each season. Valdez is an active clinician working with fellow music educators, including playing an important role as mentor to members of CYSO’s artistic staff.

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