In partnership with Storycatchers Theatre and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the CSO Association offers a program for young women, ages 13–20, who are incarcerated at the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville, Illinois.
The year-round program, known as "Fabulous Females," provides an outlet for participants to experience the success of personal development through the writing and performance of stories, scenes, poems, and songs inspired by their personal experiences. During the course of a year, individual stories are developed into dramatic scenes and songs which form the basis for an original musical, performed and presented by program participants at the prison each fall.
Soprano Elizabeth Gray and mezzo-soprano Sarah Ponder, both members of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, serve as teaching artists for the program. The teaching artists work biweekly with program participants, leading sessions on the fundamentals of music and musicianship, building vocal skills and developing capacity to perform for a live audience. 15–20 young women participate in each quarterly session; over the course of a year, up to 60 individuals are engaged through the program.
Since the CSO's involvement in the program, which began in January, 2010, residents at Warrenville have enjoyed special visits from artistic leaders at the CSO: Music Director Riccardo Muti and Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma have both visited the facility twice to meet and perform for and with residents.
Seven members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have participated in the program, performing along with Muti and Ma or with the Fabulous Females for their fall 2010 musical, "Mom in the Moon"; members of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Chorus have also visited and performed for residents at the facility.
Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust is the generous sponsor of this program.