A Letter from Dr. Sisk
June 24, 2020
Dear MYSO Family,
I write to you, players, parents and sponsors, to announce my retirement as MYSO Music Director and to explain why I made the decision to retire now. I had intended to continue for one more year, until I retire from teaching at Lewis, but circumstances have conspired to convince me that now is the time.
As a Lewis music ensemble, MYSO is subject to regulation by various administrators and committees charged with ensuring the safety of students. Those people will continue evaluating the dangers of COVID-19 throughout the summer and decide how all classes and ensembles will function in the fall. It seems likely that I will be teaching at least three classes online. The protocols for music ensemble rehearsals are not yet determined.
What we have decided is that, given the uncertainty and unfortunate likelihood of the pandemic persisting, we must limit MYSO to string players for the fall semester. The rationale is simple: string players can wear masks; wind players cannot.
That decision having been made I suggested that we invite a string player and conductor to direct MYSO in the fall, and we are looking for the right person now.
That development led me to consider whether I might be able to put together a full orchestra in January, given the uncertainty created by the pandemic. That led me to conclude that retiring now will give the MYSO board and the Lewis University Department of Music more options for the future.
As you know, I have been the Music Director since 1991. It has been one of the joys of my career to conduct this orchestra. The relationships I have formed with players and parents have been most rewarding. The MYSO board and Lewis University have been supportive and generous.
So this is thank you and good-bye. I hope to see some of you again at future concerts. Whatever happens, keep making music. We need it more than ever.
Would you like to submit a Farewell Message to Dr. Sisk? Fill out this form and it will be forwarded to him!
Note: While the search for a new music director continues, MYSO is accepting online audition submissions for the 2020-2021 Season. For audition information, click here.
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
Lawrence Sisk, music director
Audra Sybert, executive director
Mel Gray, Jr.
Mary Jane Johnson
Rev. Daniel Torson
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.