Launched by Riccardo Muti during his inaugural season as CSO music director, Musical Projects for Underserved and Incarcerated Youth engage dozens of young people annually who are in the care of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Cook County, or the Department of Children and Family Services.

At the beginning of each season, Riccardo Muti visits a Chicago-area juvenile corrections facility to present an interactive recital alongside guest opera singers as well as musicians of the CSO. Additionally, site-specific projects are developed and implemented by the Institute in partnership with specialists in the field of youth development and juvenile justice, responding to the unique needs of each partner organization and the youth they serve. With participation by musicians of the CSO and Civic Orchestra, projects reach young people at Illinois Youth Centers in Chicago and Warrenville, the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, Thresholds, the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and Chicago Child Care Society.

Activity includes intensive music-making residencies in collaboration with The Irene Taylor Trust: Music in Prisons and Storycatchers Theatre, percussion workshops led by CSO Teaching Artist Michael Riendeau and the Lullaby Project, a songwriting and recoding workshop created and presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

See below for examples of work created in past Musical Projects for Underserved and Incarcerated Youth:

Change me – written and performed by youth at the Illinois Youth Center-Chicago, musicians of the CSO and special guest artists during the week of March 14, 2016.

Don’t Give Up, He’s Watching – written and performed by youth at the Illinois Youth Center-Chicago, musicians of the CSO and special guest artists during the week of March 14, 2016.

Letter to Mom – written and performed by youth at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, musicians of the CSO and special guest artists during the CSO’s 2015 residency at CCJTDC.

Closing Remarks from 2016 residency at IYCC – After the CSO’s 2016 songwriting workshop at IYCC, the center’s Chief of Security had some encouraging remarks for the young men who performed. 

CSO Lullaby Project 2015 video – Hear participants from the 2015 CSO Lullaby Project talk about their experiences. This video, produced by Green River Films, was the recipient of a Midwest Emmy.

This program is generously sponsored by the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation and Baxter International Inc.