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July 2016
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Young American and Scottish Musicians Prepare for Independence Day Salute


For many Chicagoans, celebrating Independence Day would not be complete without a trip to Jay Pritzker Pavilion to enjoy live music, a picnic, and fireworks.  This year, audiences will be treated to the sounds of American and Scottish youth ensembles.  On Monday, July 4 at 6:30 pm, the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCS) will join the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) to celebrate the USA’s 240th birthday.  The concert will also be broadcast live on WFMT.

After a rehearsal on Sunday, July 3, three CYSO musicians talked about their collaboration with the NYCS for this year’s Independence Day Salute at the Grant Park Music Festival.


From left: Kathryn L. of Naperville, Sophie S. of Skokie, and Vincent W. of Des Plaines backstage at Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Although the CYSO started to rehearse on June 22 for this concert, Sunday’s rehearsal at Pritzker Pavilion was the first open dress rehearsal with the NYCS.  All three musicians described the NYCS’s sound as “angelic.”

“They’re just…wow!” said Vincent.   Sophie added, “We haven’t really had a chance to meet with the choir, but you can tell they are just very mature and have a beautiful sound.”

The musicians also expressed their excitement about working with Christopher Bell, Chorus Director of the Grant Park Music Festival and Artistic Director of the NYCS.

“He’s so energetic and fun to work with,” said Vincent.  “He also makes you feel his energy when you play,” commented Sophie.  “It’s very in the moment.”

“He also had the best shoes today,” noted Kathryn.  “They were plaid!”  Chicago audiences have come to anticipate Bell’s Fourth of July concert attire, and this year will be no exception.

Audience members can also expect to hear patriotic favorites, but this year’s concert has some new additions and twists.  “We’re playing some Scottish pieces with the choir,” Vincent W. said, “and the opening of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture will actually be sung.  It’s gorgeous.”

Performing patriotic music comes with great responsibility.  Sophie stated, “We sometimes think that this music is easy to play, but we have to play them perfectly because they’re so well known.  It’s very important to our country, and we have to perform at our best.”

Sophie also applauded the fact that in light of the international controversy surrounding “Brexit,” Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the National Youth Choir of Scotland is “willing to come and celebrate our national holiday with so much energy and fun.”

Both the choir and orchestra are eager to perform on the Pritzker Pavilion stage.  “We normally perform at Symphony Center,” said Kathryn, “but we don’t get to see the faces in the audience.  Here, it’s really relaxed, and you can see the excitement on everyone’s face.  Classical music might be worlds away for some people, but it’s cool that we get to bring it to everyone on this patriotic holiday.”


For more information about the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra, visit their website.

For more information about the National Youth Choir of Scotland, visit their website.

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