The Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) was originally founded in 1959 by Mary K. Rosen. In the beginning, MYSO included a mere 14 music students and at the time was known as the Chicago Young Judea Symphony. In 1968, parents of the orchestra members formed a non-profit organization for the purpose of providing financial and managerial support. The name of the orchestra was changed at that time to the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra.
MYSO was under the continuous direction of its founder and conductor until her death, at which time Pamela Overstreet Culley assumed the duties of director and conductor. Upon her retirement in 1985, Daniel Sommerville assumed her position. He was followed by James MacDonald in 1986 and Philip J. Bauman in 1988.
After a hiatus of two seasons, a process of dissolution was begun. The board, under the leadership of Nancy Denton, decided to relocate MYSO from Chicago to the Joliet area. Auditions were held in May of 1991 and our current music director, Lawrence Sisk, was hired for MYSO’s first season in Joliet. Mary Jane Johnson, was hired in 1992 by the board to oversee the day to day business operations of the orchestra. In Spring of 2001, Mrs. Johnson retired and the position was filled by Mrs. Pam Nogal who served as Executive Director from 2001 until 2016. Audra Sybert is the current Executive Director of MYSO.
In 2009, MYSO was awarded the prestigious St. Genesius Award for outstanding achievement in the arts by Lewis University.
Board of Directors
Pam Nogal, president
Michael Gorcowski, vice-president
Daniela Broderick, treasurer
Pam Breuning, secretary
Lawrence Sisk, music director
Audra Sybert, executive director
Mel Gray, Jr.
Mary Jane Johnson
The orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Sisk, rehearses on Wednesday evening from late August through May in Ives Hall at Lewis University.
All members are expected to comply with the guidelines in the MYSO Handbook.
Lawrence Sisk has served as Music Director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra since 1991, conducting more than 150 concerts. He is Professor of Music and from 1988 to 2017 he served as Chair of the Music Department at Lewis University. Sisk earned a PhD in historical musicology at Northwestern University, where he studied orchestral conducting with Maestro Frederick Ockwell. While Dr. Sisk has a special affinity for Russian music, his conducting repertoire includes everything from Renaissance music to music of living composers. He has conducted the world premieres of many new compositions, including works by faculty colleagues and music composed by MYSO players.